Synergistic effect of pollutants in Lombardy waters: an interdisciplinary analysis with Big Data and biological sensors

The 2030 Agenda, which invites us to study environmental balances with a systemic approach, underlines the strong links between the health of aquatic ecosystems and our individual and collective well-being. In particular territories, such as Lombardy, it is of crucial importance not only to monitor the state of water pollution, but also the sources of emerging risk in order to identify new strategies for intervention, prevention and change of production processes. The scientific journal Scientific Reports has published the results of a research developed by the interdisciplinary working group of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policies and the Department of Physics of the University of Milan coordinated by Prof. Caterina La Porta from CC&B and Prof. Stefano Bocchi. The researchers, starting from geolocalized data of ARPA related to pollutants present in the waters of the Lombardy Region, were able to identify the most likely combinations (cocktails) of pollutants (generally of agricultural origin), some of which are no longer allowed, others still widely used as, for example, glyphosate. To better study the impact of these pollutant cocktails, the unicellular alga C. reinhardtii was used as a biosensor. Increasing doses of the cocktail revealed states of bioindicator stress with the progressive appearance of palmelloid neoformations.

"This work uses a rigorous and quantitative approach," explains Caterina La Porta professor of general pathology and digital health expert, "which provides a strategy that can be used on a larger scale to study the synergistic impact of pollutants on the environment." Stefano Bocchi adds "These studies, developed at a territorial scale on the dynamics of ecosystems, allow us to investigate the many and complex challenges of the great One Health theme of the health of the planet, a front of innovation that pushes us to overcome disciplinary limits to adequately address increasingly complex issues."

La Porta, C.A.M., Fumagalli, M.R., Gomarasca, S., Lionetti M. C., Zapperi S., Bocchi S.
Synergistic effects of contaminants in Lombardy waters.
Sci Rep 11, 13888 (2021).

published on 7/7/2021