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Dear stakeholders involved in water quality monitoring and assessment,

The final MONITOOL stakeholders' conference took place on 19 May 2023 in Cagliari, bringing together more than a hundred people involved in environmental monitoring and coastal water quality assessment.

We take this opportunity to inform you of the main outputs of this European Atlantic Area project (2017-2023), involving 8 partners and 10 associated partners, the first of its size (2.48 million euros) focused on DGT (Diffusive Gradients in Thin-films) integrative passive samplers and their potential use for the chemical assessment of marine waters, in the framework of European Directives.

In the context of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), this project aimed establishing meaningful relationships between dissolved concentrations in water samples obtained by spot sampling and 'labile' concentrations measured, in parallel, using DGTs. The ultimate objective was to adapt existing marine water Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) for cadmium, nickel and lead (in assessing the chemical status compliance), as well as to propose adaptations to existing thresholds for several specific metals,  such as copper, cobalt, zinc and manganese.

Several studies have discussed the shortcomings of traditional water quality assessment, based on the analysis of spot water samples, recommending, in the context of the WFD, the use of alternative techniques, such as passive samplers (PS), to improve the quality of the assessment. In this sense, DGT-type PS have been widely used to measure trace metals in marine waters. Still, their application for compliance monitoring is hindered by the impossibility of directly comparing the obtained results with the existing EQS.

Within the MONITOOL project, after exploring the relationships between dissolved and labile metal concentrations (see Rodriguez et al., 2021; Caetano et al., 2022), a methodology has been proposed for the adaptation of EQS marine water to DGTs, for cadmium, nickel and lead, providing insights into the steps forward their implementation within European Directives (see Amouroux et al., 2023).

This was accomplished by using a robust database of total dissolved and DGT-labile metal concentrations obtained by concurrent sampling (i.e., spot sampling and DGT) in transitional and coastal waters of the eight European countries participating in the MONITOOL project (EAPA 565/2016) (Rodriguez et al., in prep.).

MONITOOL has also made it possible to develop skills within the consortium and set up a network of expert laboratories to implement and analyse DGTs (see Gonzalez et al., 2022).

To make the use of DGTs easier for external laboratories and end-users (e.g., water agencies, entities involved in the WFD and/or Marine Strategy Framework Directive sampling campaigns, etc.), several highly operational documents have been created and are freely available on the MONITOOL website (i.e., Bersuder, P. et al. (2021), good practice guides for the use of DGTs (see Millán et al, 2021), tutorials showing the different laboratory and field steps, and a dedicated section for the use of DGTs by beginners).

 MONITOOL results 2017 2023

What are the prospects following MONITOOL results?

The results obtained provide the basis for DGT to be used in regulatory applications, but the acceptance of the DGTs at European level and their widespread use would be favored by the following actions:

- To carry out a pilot study, under WFD operational conditions, to ensure 1) that the proposed EQS marine water adaptation to DGT (for Cd, Ni and Pb) are at least as protective as the current EQS marine water used in the WFD assessment process and 2) to acquire the data needed to specify the best sampling strategy when using DGTs (i.e., number of DGT replicates, number of annual deployments, deployment period, etc.).

- Verification of the ability of laboratories to provide satisfactory results (at low limits of quantification).

-  Acquiring ecotoxicological data on marine species in parallel with DGT data, to ensure about the toxicological relevance of the adapted EQSDGT for Pb, Cd and Ni.

The consortium will be mobilised to propose these actions in a future MONITOOL2 project, but if you would like to volunteer to launch a pilot study in one of your countries, please do not hesitate to contact us.


We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and trust during the development of this project.

Please accept our warmest regards.

MONITOOL consortium.

July 2023.



Isabelle Amouroux et al. A new approach to using Diffusive Gradient in Thin‑films (DGT) labile concentration for Water Framework Directive chemical status assessment: adaptation of Environmental Quality Standard to DGT for cadmium, nickel and lead. Environmental Sciences Europe (2023) 35:29. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12302-023-00733-4

Jean-Louis Gonzalez et al. An international intercomparison exercise on passive samplers (DGT) for monitoring metals in marine waters under a regulatory context. Science of The Total Environment, Volume 847, 2022, 157499. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157499

Miguel Caetano et al. Metals concentrations in transitional and coastal waters by ICPMS and voltammetry analysis of spot samples and passive samplers (DGT), Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 179, 2022, 113715. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113715

Philippe Bersuder et al. Concurrent sampling of transitional and coastal waters by Diffusive Gradient in Thin-films (DGT) and spot sampling for trace metals analysis. MethodX. 2021, Vol. 8. p.:101462. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mex.2021.101462

Rodríguez J.G, et al. Assessing variability in the ratio of metal concentrations measured by DGT-type passive samplers and spot sampling in European seawaters. Science of The Total Environment. Volume 783, 2021, pp: 147001. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.147001

Vanessa Millán et al. A Good Practice Guide for the Use of DGTs. Sampling of metals in transitional and coastal waters by Diffusive Gradient in Thin films (DGT) technique. 2021. Publisher: Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias. ISBN: 978-84-09-30846-0. https://www.monitoolproject.eu/images/Publicaciones/A_Good_Practice_Guide_2023_digital.pdf

The attached document sets out the main results obtained and all the relevant information regarding the MONITOOL project can be accessed in the following link: https://www.monitoolproject.eu/

MONITOOL project meets schools by UNICA

On April 5th, a dissemination event organised by researches belonging to Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche e Sanità Pubblica of UNICA was held at the Institute “Michele Giua”, in Cagliari (Italy), to discuss about air and water pollution.

The event was attended by several classes from the institute, with more than 100 students in total.

 UNICA 2023

The day began with an introduction to the topic of air and water pollution by Alessandro Desogus, who then presented two projects in which UNICA is participating: MONITOOL and Aer Nostrum. After that, the event focused on passive sampling technique and the use of DGTs (Diffusive gradients in thin films).

The event concluded with a Q&A session with the students, who had the opportunity to ask questions and engage in discussions about the topics presented.

Our MONITOOL partners Jean-Louis Gonzalez (IFREMER) and Natalia Montero (AZTI), guest editors of a Special Issue of the Water journal

The Special Issue is entitled "Metal and Technology Critical Element (TCE) Concentrations in Marine Ecosystems" and the "Call for Papers" is currently open until next March 2023.

The aim of this Special Issue is to provide a better understanding of biogeochemical processes that control the behaviour of trace metals and TCEs speciation/bioavailability/bioaccumulation and explore the effects of human activities, in terms of concentration levels, in the different compartments of coastal ecosystems (water, sediments biota). We welcome and encourage papers on the time evolution monitoring of these elements, transfer to biota, and risk-assessment-related research to join this Special Issue.

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Water invites authors to provide innovative original full articles, critical reviews and timely short communications and to propose special issues devoted to new technological and scientific domains and to interdisciplinary approaches of the water cycles. We ensure a critical review process and a quick turnaround between submission and final decision.

Author Benefits are:

  • Open Access: free for readers, with article processing charges (APC) paid by authors or their institutions.
  • High Visibility: indexed within Scopus, SCIE (Web of Science), Ei Compendex, GEOBASE, GeoRef, PubAg, AGRIS, CAPlus / SciFinder, Inspec, and other databases.
  • Journal Rank: JCR - Q2 (Water Resources) / CiteScore - Q1 (Water Science and Technology).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 March 2023

More information: here.

MONITOOL project, present at the International Symposium on Marine Sciences 2022

ITC and AZTI partners attended the Iberian Seminar on Marine Chemistry (SIQUIMAR) in the framework of the International Symposium on Marine Sciences (ISMS), 6 – 8 July 2022, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain

This event (https://isms-canarias.com) brought together a Spanish and Portuguese chemical scientists involved in ocean and coastal processes, but open to other Iberoamerican and European scientists.

In addition, of being an open forum to present results and exchange viewpoints, SIQUIMAR was an ideal framework to explore new lines of research, identify common interests and establish synergies as the seed of new collaborative projects.

Following previous lines of action, the symposium brought marine chemical scientists of multidisciplinary research activities related to Chemical Oceanography, Biogeochemical process studies, Tracers in the Ocean, Marine Ecotoxicology and Pollution and Global Change related processes.

Due to all the above, it was a good opportunity to publicize MONITOOL project and its main results.

A poster entitled “MONITOOL PROJECT: NEW TOOLS FOR MONITORING THE CHEMICAL STATUS IN TRANSITIONAL AND COASTAL WATERS UNDER THE WATER FRAMEWORK DIRECTIVE”, was exposed during each of the 4 days the Symposium lasted, which explained the main objective, the sampling campaigns and analysis carried out and the proposed EQS by DGT passive sampling devices for cadmium, nickel and lead, as well as for other metal ions under study.

Next steps, thanks to the granted 18-month project-extension (January 2022-June 2023), will extend searching for higher metal concentrations in order to validate and improve the obtained results.

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MONITOOL project participation in the Summer Internships Program 2022 of the IST (Lisbon)

The MONITOOL project participated, through its project partner Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), in the Summer Internships Program 2022, promoted by the Chemical Engineering Department of IST.

For two weeks (11th – 22nd July), a BSc. Student of Chemical Engineering engaged in the laboratory analysis of spot water samples collected by MONITOOL partners upon extension of the project. Aiming at identifying higher levels of contamination of Cd, Ni and Pb, the student used electroanalytical techniques such as anodic stripping voltammetry (ASV) for the quantification of Cd and Pb concentrations, either using the Hg-drop or the Hg thin-film electrodes. As to Ni, adsorptive cathodic stripping voltammetry (CSV) with a Hg-drop electrode was used for its determination.
During the internship, supervised by Prof. Margarida Correia dos Santos and Dr. Carlos Monteiro, the student could get additional laboratory training with a focus on analytical chemistry aspects such as the quality control of the analyses. In addition, the student could understand the aims of MONITOOL project and its contribution to monitoring the aquatic environment.

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