On December 14th at 11 h, our colleague Lara Dronjak will defend her doctoral thesis, entitled Microplastics: An Emerging Contaminant in Environmental Compartments - A Comprehensive Analysis of Distribution and Environmental Impact, at classroom 215 of ETSE (Sescelades campus).

The PhD thesis has been supervised by Dr. Nora Expósito, Dr. Joaquim Rovira and Dr. Jordi Sierra, and it has been developed within the Doctoral program of Nanoscience, Materials and Chemical Engineering at URV.

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In recent decades, there has been a significant decline in the quality of semen among healthy men, correlating with an increase in male infertility rates. The evidence points towards a connection with lifestyle habits and current environmental pollution. Now, in collaboration with the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA) of the Spanish Research Council (CSIC), TecnATox researchers have developed an innovative method to directly detect organic contaminants in sperm. The study has been led by Dr. Pablo Gago-Ferrero, and it involved the participation of Elena Sánchez-Resino, PhD student of TecnATox, and Dr. Montse Marquès.

Published in Environmental Science & Technology, the study involved semen samples from 10 men and revealed the presence of plastic additives such as phthalates or bisphenols. These substances pose potential risks to human health, along with chemical additives added to tires, industrial perfluoroalkylated compounds or surfactants, among others.

This evidence underscores the need for stricter legislation regarding the marketing and use of these compounds. Such measures are essential to safeguard the health of the population.

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Prof Aïda Valls, who recently received the DonaTIC 2023 Award, was also invited to the Round Table "Amb Veu de Dona", an event organized by SER Tarragona to make Tarragona women visible who are leaders in different fields.

Port of Tarragona was the scene of several debates in which women from different economical sectors participated, who for more than two hours talked about inequality, wage gap, the lack of female references and the need to promote global policies to reverse certain realities.

The presence of women in the industrial sector is only 28%. This was the starting point of the first round table, which co-chaired Prof. Aïda Valls together with Mercè Puig, general secretary of CCOO Tarragona, and Anna Navarro, head of strategy, quality and innovation at Port of Tarragona. They talked about the sorority, the empowerment to be on the front line or the incentives and workshops held in schools to encourage scientific and technological vocations.

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Generalitat de Catalunya awarded Prof. Aïda Valls, director of the ITAKA research group and researcher of TecnATox, with the DonaTIC2023 Award in the academic/researcher category. Prof. Valls is one of the seven women distinguished in the different categories among the 86 presented candidates.

DonaTIC2023 awards recognize the talent of women in the professional, business and academic world of new technologies and the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, humanities and mathematics) disciplines. These leaders offer contemporary references to girls and girls in order to encourage them to dedicate themselves to these areas and to assume leadership positions.

More information about the event can be found at https://diaridigital.urv.cat/aida-valls-premi-dona-tic-2023/.



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Dr. Joaquim Rovira has been invited by the Association of Dietitians-Nutritionists of Catalonia (CoDiNutCat) as a speaker of a conference about the consumption of microplastics and health effects. The conference will take place at November 25 (9 h) in the framework of the XI Meeting of the CoDiNutCat held in BCIN, Badalona Centre Internacional de Negocis, Badalona (Barcelona).

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Dr. Deepika will receive the extraordinary doctoral award of the “Programa de Doctorat en Nanociència, Materials I Enginyeria Química” by the doctoral school for her thesis entitled Quantitative Systems Toxicology Modeling For Neuronal Adverse Outcome. The event will take place on Tuesday, November 28, at 6 p.m., in the historic building of El Celler de Vila-seca (Carrer dels Castillejos, 21, Vila-seca).
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