Catalan Water Research Institute research and innovation for the sustainable use of water

Dr. Damià Barceló receives an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Almeria after 30 years of collaboration

Friday, 06 May 2022

“The reuse of regenerated water for the cultivation of food would not lead to any health problems for people”, this is one of the statements made by the new honorary doctor of the University of Almeria (UAL), Damià Barceló Cullerès, director of the Catalan Water Research Institute (ICRA) , in his inauguration speech. Barceló mentioned that this is the conclusion of one of the most recent studies that he has carried out with the team of Prof. Amadeo R. Férnandez-Alba, from the University of Almeria, who precisely acted as godfather in the investiture ceremony.

The study had to determine the levels and the possible risk to human health of the residues of 30 emerging pollutants from different chemical groups present in these waters for irrigation in agriculture and their possible absorption by tomatoes. “The conclusion of this study can be summarized as follows: an adult would have to consume more than 100 kilos of tomatoes a day for it to have any harmful effect on their health”, graphically summarized Barceló.

The inauguration speech of the director of ICRA was divided into five sections of his scientific biography: the beginning of the coupling of mass spectrometry with liquid chromatography as an analytical technique; studies of emerging pollutants in natural and waste waters; the treatment of waste water and its reuse; the scientific collaboration with the University of Almeria and the final part focused on waste water epidemiology studies.

During his speech, Barceló pointed out the close collaboration with the UAL group that dates back to 1992, now 30 years ago: “I receive this distinction with great joy, coming as it does from a University with which I am united strong professional and personal ties for a long time”. And he mentioned two of the works carried out together that show the global impact that this scientific collaboration has had and that have resulted in numerous publications. The first was one of the first studies to determine the environmental risk of drugs in wastewater, natural waters and sediments. This was published in 2006, signed as first author by María Dolores Hernando who did postdoctoral studies in the Barceló laboratory, and has obtained up to now 1600 citations according to Google Scholar. The second is the work signed by María José Gómez as the first author and who was also in the Barceló laboratory, in addition to Mira Petrovic of the CSIC, also published in 2006 and which corresponds to an analytical method for the determination of 16 drugs of different chemical groups in water by means of LC-MS in tandem and that was applied to the determination of drugs present in hospital effluents. To date, this work has received more than 600 citations according to Google Scholar and was new for its time, since the contribution of drug waste of hospital origin to sanitation networks was beginning to be studied at the level of ‘Europe.

About Barceló, the rector of the UAL, Carmelo Rodríguez Torreblanca , highlighted its “international stature, a benchmark in the field of the environment and, in particular, in the management and quality of water, whose contributions to global level to fight against climate change have been substantial”. In addition to his ability to stimulate genuine interest in others, promote dissemination and create school in his field of knowledge, the environment and, more specifically, in the development of methods to control organic water pollution caused by the so-called ’emerging pollutants’, they are just advocates of the recognition that we give it today and make it a creditor of this distinction”.

For his part, the godfather of Damià Barceló Culleres, professor Amadeo R. Fernández-Alba, pointed out that “being able to sponsor this doctorate is a great honor that allows me to highlight, even if briefly, what a life dedicated to scientific work means and which is, without a doubt, an example and guide for many of us, as well as for new generations of researchers like the ones we celebrate here today. It is clear that Professor Barceló is an exceptional scientist in the field of Environmental Chemistry, with whom I have had the good fortune to share numerous moments of work, projects and ideas. In a very special way to highlight the collaboration in the training of highly qualified students in both CSIC and UAL groups such as María Dolores Hernando, María José Gómez, Serge Chiron or Imma Ferrer”.

About Damià Barceló Culleres

Damià Barceló Culleres is director of the Catalan Water Research Institute (ICRA). His research career has focused on the area of ​​water quality, especially on the development of methods to control organic pollution caused by so-called emerging pollutants (polar pesticides, surfactants, detergents, endocrine disruptors and pharmaceuticals) in waste and natural water, as well as research associated with microplastics and biomarkers of exposure. Since September 2017 he has been the supervisor of 60 doctorates, and has given short and continuing training courses at universities in Spain, South Korea, Brazil, Greece, Saudi Arabia, among others, as well as participated in conferences international PITTCON, SETAC and ExTech.

Damià Barceló’s inauguration speech: