Radioecology Laboratory

The Radioecology Laboratory uses state-of-the-art nuclear and isotopic techniques to address Member States' most important coastal and marine ecological challenges and needs. These include studies on biomagnification, ocean acidification, carbon cycling, seafood safety and biotoxins, often in the context of future climate-change scenarios. It hosts the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre.

Assessing the impact of climate change

Equipped with world-class seawater aquaria, the Radioecology Laboratory can fine-tune vital parameters such as turbidity (cloudiness of a fluid caused by large numbers of extremely small individual particles), temperature, salinity, carbon dioxide and pH levels to assess subtle climate-change induced impacts on contaminant and toxin transfer in coastal and marine biota.

Monitoring pollution and toxins in the marine environment

The Laboratory provides expertise on the flow of potentially toxic chemicals, such as heavy metals or radioisotopes from industrial, agricultural and municipal runoff into rivers and groundwater and then into the coastal ocean. It studies toxins that settle on the seafloor and are ingested by bottom feeding organisms, such as clams and flat fish. The lab also does research on biological impacts based on particular chemicals and species, as well as on biomagnification (the increasing concentration of substances in organisms) to the top of the food chain.

Training and capacity-building

The Radioecology Laboratory develops new techniques and research to assist Member States in their studies on marine pollution and biotoxins, which can be harmful to marine organisms and humans through the consumption of contaminated seafood. The Laboratory also provides training, such as on the use of radio-ligand receptor binding assays, a specific analytical procedure to identify harmful algal blooms.

​Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre

As the ocean takes up about one fourth of the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere each year, the acidity of seawater is increasing. This can impact marine organisms and ecosystems. The Laboratory hosts the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre, actively facilitating, promoting and communicating on global activities, including research. 

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