Dr. Damià Barceló receives an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Almeria after 30 years of collaboration
"The reuse of reclaimed water for growing food would not cause any health problems for people", this is one of the statements made by the new Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Almeria (UAL), Damià Barceló Cullerès, director of the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA), in his investiture speech. Barceló mentioned that this is the conclusion of one of the most recent studies he has carried out with the team of Prof. Amadeo R. Férnandez-Alba, from the University of Almería, who acted as sponsor at the investiture ceremony.
The study was to determine the levels and possible risk to human health of residues of 30 emerging pollutants from different chemical groups present in these waters for agricultural irrigation and their possible absorption in tomatoes. "The conclusion of this study can be summarised as follows: an adult would have to consume more than 100 kilos of tomatoes a day to have any harmful effect on their health," Barceló summarised graphically.
The ICRA director's investiture speech was divided into five sections of his scientific biography: the beginning on the assembly of mass spectrometry with liquid chromatography as an analytical technique; studies of emerging pollutants in natural and wastewater; wastewater treatment and reuse; scientific collaboration with the University of Almeria and the final part focused on studies of wastewater epidemiology.
During his speech Barceló pointed out the close collaboration with the UAL group that dates back to 1992, 30 years ago: "I receive this distinction with great joy coming as it does from a University with which I have had strong professional and personal ties for a long time". And he mentioned two of the works carried out jointly that show the worldwide impact that this scientific collaboration has had and which have resulted in numerous publications. The first was one of the first studies to determine the environmental risk of pharmaceuticals in wastewater, natural waters and sediments. This was published in 2006, signed as first author by María Dolores Hernando, who carried out postdoctoral studies in Barceló's laboratory, and has obtained 1600 citations according to Google Scholar. The second is the work signed by María José Gómez as first author, who was also in Barceló's laboratory, as well as Mira Petrovic of the CSIC, also published in 2006 and which corresponds to an analytical method for the determination of 16 drugs from different chemical groups in water using tandem LC-MS and which was applied to the determination of drugs present in hospital effluents. This work has now received more than 600 citations according to Google Scholar and was groundbreaking for its time, as the contribution of hospital drug residues to sewage networks was just beginning to be studied at the European level.
About Barceló, the UAL parish priest, Carmelo Rodríguez Torreblanca, highlighted his "international stature, a reference in environmental matters and, in particular, in the management and quality of water, whose contributions at a global level to fight against climate change have been considerable". In addition to his ability to stimulate genuine interest in others, promote dissemination and create a 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', are justly deserving of the recognition that we give him today and make him worthy of this distinction".
For his part, the godfather of Damià Barceló Culleres, Professor Amadeo R. Fernández-Alba, said that "being able to sponsor this doctorate is a great honour that allows me to highlight, albeit briefly, what a life dedicated to scientific work means and that is undoubtedly 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 many moments of work, projects and ideas. I would especially like 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 and Imma Ferrer".
About Damià Barceló Culleres
Damià Barceló Culleres is director of the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA). His research career has focused on the area of water quality, especially in the development of methods to control organic pollution caused by the so-called emerging pollutants (polar pesticides, surfactants, detergents, endocrine disruptors and pharmaceuticals) in waste and water nature, as well as research associated with microplastics and biomarkers of exposure. Since September 2017 he has supervised 60 PhDs, given short and continuing education courses at universities in Spain, South Korea, Brazil, Greece, Saudi Arabia, among others, as well as participated in the international conferences PITTCON, SETAC and ExTech.
Damià Barceló's investiture speech: