Metals occur everywhere in the environment and have diverse properties. Humans made use of their versatility very early on, as cultural epochs of the Iron and Bronze Ages show. Today, metals are used in a variety of ways, for example in the manufacture of everyday objects or as contrast agents in medicine. And thus, metals additionally enter the environment through humans, which has an impact on the aquatic and marine environment.
Knowledge of metal concentrations in the environment is important, for example, to be able to set limits on the concentration above which they are harmful or even toxic. But how can one distinguish whether metals in the environment are of natural origin or have entered the environment via input pathways by humans? Dr Daniel Pröfrock and his team from the Department of Marine Bioanalytical Chemistry develop and apply modern analytical methods to determine metal concentrations and isotope ratios.
Dr Daniel Pröfrock explains: „Modern analytical methods make it possible to identify the diverse metal inputs into the environment and to trace input pathways. Highly sensitive methods are required, especially for the analysis of water samples. Our measuring methods are so sensitive that we could theoretically detect a lump of sugar in the entire water of Lake Constance. The data collected can then be used to investigate how effective measures to reduce pollutant inputs are. Or to make recommendations on where inputs to the environment should be reduced.“
The exciting topic of metals in the environment and modern analysis methods is presented very clearly as a so-called „spotlight“ on the coastMap portal.