Contaminantes Orgánicos e Inorgánicos en el Medio Ambiente

Research lines: Behavior of pesticides and other organic and inorganic pollutants in the water-soil system, and technological applications for reduction of their environmental impact.


Contamination of soils and water is a topic of international interest because of the dangers which entails for humans and the environment. The types of contaminants usually found include potentially toxic elements (PTEs) and organic contaminants. Their presence in excess in water and soils may have undesirable effects with high toxicological and environmental risks. In the case of water, it is also of pressing concern its microbiological control both in wastewater treatment plants and in regenerated water with applications in agriculture. Therefore, the general scope of the Research Group (COIMed) is the design of strategies to minimise the contamination of soils and water, contributing to the development of new environmentally friendly technologies which results in a more sustainable management of the soil-water system.


A. Soil pollution control.

1) Remediation of Contaminated Soils.

The determinant step for reaching the contaminants elimination in soils is to enhance their solubility so that they can be removed or, in the case of organic pollutants, become accessible for further degradation by soil microorganisms. For this purpose, COIMed group use non-toxic and biodegradable extracting agents (such as biosurfactants or cyclodextrins, among others) that do not alter soil properties.
In the case of organic pollutants, the extraction/solubilization techniques are also combined with microbiological techniques which include the isolation and selection of specific degrader bacteria which are added to the contaminated soils. Natural attenuation capacity of the soils is assessed by genomic studies.

2) Prevention of soil contamination.

The use of biosolids from sewage sludge generated by waste water treatment plants (WWTPs) in agriculture what impplies an added value to the residue. However, there is a considerable concern about the organic microcontaminants (pesticides, emergent contaminants) that sewage sludge add to the agricultural soils when are applied as organic amendments.
The COIMed group develops and applies extraction and microbiological technologies for the reduction of organic contaminants content in sludge and biosolids from WWTPs.

B. Water treatment processes.

The COIMED group has developed several technologies for water purification based on clay minerals modified with surfactants and polymers, having determined the parameters to be optimized for the design of materials with antimicrobial and antiviral properties and for the retention of organic contaminants. The combination of these systems with other ones (electrocoagulation, moving bed biofilm reactor, etc.) is also one of our interest with the aim of creating multi-barrier systems for increased efficiency and also for lowering the costs with respect to other more conventional configurations in water treatment processes.