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Rare earth elements (REEs) as emerging contaminants in Brazil: Occurrence and distribution of total, dissolved, labile and nanoparticulate Ce in the environment

Grant number: 23/15970-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2024
Effective date (End): March 31, 2026
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry
Principal Investigator:Amauri Antonio Menegário
Grantee:José Lucas Martins Viana
Host Institution: Centro de Estudos Ambientais (CEA). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Rio Claro. Rio Claro , SP, Brazil


This Post-doctoral Research Project aims to study the occurrence and environmental distribution of cerium (Ce) in its total, dissolved, labile, and nanoparticulate forms in the aquatic environment of areas prone to contamination by rare earth elements (REEs) in the states of São Paulo and Amazonas (Brazil). The hypothesis underlying this work is that REEs and their nanoparticles, represented here by Ce and nano-CeO2, respectively, are important emerging contaminants in rivers affected by industrial activities, urban waste, and agricultural residues in São Paulo and Amazonas. The proposed work is at the forefront in the state of São Paulo and in Brazil for highlighting the importance of REEs as emerging anthropogenic contaminants and for using the Single Particle Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (spICP-MS) technique for the analysis of Ce nanoparticles in environmental matrices. There are no previous works in Brazil that use this approach or instrumentation for this type of assessment. This project has a proposed duration of 2 years, divided into three main stages: (i) analytical development; (ii) collection and analysis of samples; and (iii) data treatment and scientific communication. Additionally, an international internship abroad fellowship (BEPE) will be sought aiming for further analytical development in ICP-MS and spICP-MS at the University of Graz, Austria, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Jörg Feldmann. The requested period is considered sufficient for the completion of all proposed stages. At the end of the work, the generated data will be used to answer the following research questions: (a) which anthropogenic pressures (industrial, urban, or agricultural) are most relevant to REE contamination in the studied rivers; (b) how is cerium fractionated (total, dissolved, labile, and nanoparticulate) in the water column of selected rivers and what does this imply for its bioavailability; and (c) what is the relevance of environmental levels of Ce nanoparticles in the environment and their possible ecotoxicological implications.

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