Can the recycling of europium from contaminated waters be achieved through living macroalgae? Study on accumulation and toxicological impacts under realistic concentrations


Europium (Eu) strategic importance for the manufacturing industry, high economic value and high supply risk, categorizes it as critical raw material. Due to anthropogenic contamination, Eu levels in ecosystems have been growing, which opens opportunities for innovation: its recovery and recycling from contaminated water as element source - circular economy. In this pioneering study, six widely available living marine macroalgae (Ulva intestinalis, Ulva lactuca, Gracilaria sp., Osmundea pinnatifida, Fucus vesiculosus and Fucus spiralis) were characterized (water content and specific surface area) and evaluated in the pre-concentration and recovery of Eu from contaminated seawater, under different relevant contamination scenarios (10, 152 and 500 mu g L-1). U. lactuca and Gracilaria sp. (3 g L-1, fresh weight) proved to be the most effective in removing Eu, reaching up to 85% in 72 h, while the highest Eu enrichmentwas observed in U. intestinalis biomass, up to 827 mu g g(-1) (bioconcentration factor of 1800), which is higher than Eu levels in common apatite ores. The effect of Eu exposure on macroalgae growth rate and organism biochemical performance (LPO, SOD, GPx and GSTs) was also evaluated for the first time, to the best of our knowledge. Although no cellular damagewas recorded, findings revealed toxicity and defence mechanisms activation, emphasizing the need of further studies on the potential risks associated with the presence of this emerging contaminant in aquatic ecosystems. (c) 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.



subject category

Environmental Sciences


Henriques, B; Morais, T; Cardoso, CED; Freitas, R; Viana, T; Ferreira, N; Fabre, E; Pinheiro-Torres, J; Pereira, E

our authors


Bruno Henriques benefited from a Research contract (CEECIND/03511/2018) under the CEEC Individual 2018, funded by national funds (OE), through FCT -Fundacao para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia, I.P. Thanks are also due to University of Aveiro and FCT/MEC for the financial support to REQUIMTE (UIDB/50006/2020) and CESAM (UIDB/50017/2020 + UIDP/50017/2020), through national funds, and where applicable, co-financed by the FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020. This work was supported by the project No46998_N9ve-REE, co-funded by Portugal 2020 program (PT2020), PO Centro, and European Regional Development Fund.

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