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The Nat4Health project kicks-off

The Nat4Health project "Antibiotics, hormones, persistent and mobile organic pollutants, and pathogens, the complex mixture in agriculture and livestock scenario. Risk to health or natural attenuation?" is coordinated by Raffaella Meffe and Ana de Santiago from IMDEA Water Institute, in collaboration with the Carlos III Health Institute, Université Laval (Canada), and Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (Austria).Nat4Health addresses the challenge of integrating two major fields of research, public health, and the environment, with the global objective of protecting the human being and his surroundings. The continuous emission of a complex mixture of contaminants by point and diffuse sources threatens food security and air quality directly and indirectly. Two main sources of contamination are addressed in Nat4Health, the discharge of wastewater treatment plants effluents into surface water later used for crop irrigation in agriculture (unplanned water reuse) and intensive livestock. Both activities are important sources of undesirable compounds and pathogens and, in the case of livestock, a route of transmission of infectious diseases from animals to human beings (zoonosis).

The main goal of Nat4Health is to evaluate if these scenarios may pose a health risk due to the entry of contaminants into the food chain and due to air inhalation, or if natural attenuation processes in the air-soil-water-plant system hamper contaminant propagation.

Nat4Health focuses on specific groups of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), chemical and biological, whose properties give them a high potential to pose a risk to human health. For this reason, target CECs are pharmaceuticals (hormones, antibiotics, etc) and other mobile and persistent organic compounds, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genes, bacteria (Campylobacter and Escherichia coli), viruses (Hepatitis E), and protozoa (Cryptosporidium spp.). Nat4Health is aligned with the One Health concept, which seeks to achieve improvements in public health, including food safety, the control of zoonosis, as well as the fight against antibiotic resistance.

The project Nat4Health "Antibiotics, hormones, persistent and mobile organic contaminants, and pathogens, the complex mixture in agriculture and livestock scenario. Risk to health or natural attenuation?" (PID2020-118521RB-I00/AEI/10.13039/501100011033) is funded by the State Agency of Research and will last 4 years (2021-2025). It was selected in the call for grants from the State Programme for Research, Development, and Innovation Oriented to the Challenges of Society of the Ministry of Science and Innovation and the State Research Agency.