Marine Environmental Studies Laboratory

The Laboratory assists Member States in assessing coastal and marine pollution and improving seafood safety by developing and validating analytical methods for the measurement of contaminants, producing certified reference materials and applying stable isotopic techniques to study pollution processes and fingerprint pollutants’ sources.

The Laboratory’s work focuses on developing and validating analytical methods for the measurement of contaminants in marine samples, including trace elements, methyl mercury, persistent organic compounds and petroleum hydrocarbons. The information generated helps decision-makers in Member States to implement pollution monitoring programmes that protect the marine environment and support the delivery of ecosystem services.

The Laboratory also develops and uses stable isotopic techniques, for example isotope ratio mass spectrometry, to identify coastal pollution sources and processes and study climate change. 

Production of certified reference materials

The Laboratory produces certified reference materials for trace elements and organic contaminants in marine matrices, including sediment and biota (organisms) for laboratories to calibrate their instruments to the same standards, improve the quality and reliability of measurement results, and compare their results with those of other laboratories. 

Helping laboratories worldwide generate reliable data

To enable laboratories in Member States to assess the quality of their measurement results as compared to those of other laboratories, the Marine Environmental Studies Laboratory organizes interlaboratory comparisons and proficiency tests. This helps participating laboratories improve their capacity to generate reliable and quality-assured data, which decision-makers need to make informed decisions for the protection of the marine environment and the sustainable delivery of ecosystem services.

Another important work area is capacity-building. The Laboratory organizes training courses for scientists in Member States on the analysis of contaminants in marine environmental samples, covering the most commonly used analytical techniques and quality assurance and quality control principles. Training Courses include practical sessions on sample collection, pre-treatment and analysis using appropriate instruments.

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