Environment and health: from environmental measurements to investigation of ecosystem and human exposure

Institute of Anthropic Impacts and Sustainability in the marine environment (IAS-CNR),

Via della Vasca Navale, 79, 00146 Roma, Italy



This work reports on the main results emerged by the scientific activities of the CISAS project “International center of advanced study in environment, ecosystem and human health” which aims at elucidating the complex phenomena of environmental pollution in highly contaminated industrial, the effects on ecosystem and health of populations living in the surrounding areas. The project is carried out in areas recognized as “sites of national interest for remediation (Augusta-Priolo, Milazzo-Pace del Mela, Crotone-Cassano-Cerchiara), where a wide spectrum of pollutants and different patterns of contamination of the environment can be found. The link between environment and ecosystem was evaluated through the understanding of the mechanisms modulating the dynamics of contaminants in the environment, starting from the source of emission to the transfer into various matrixes (air, water, soil, sea, sediments, food chain). The use of modern and innovative conceptual tools and the support of geospatial models helped to identify the main pathways of reaction and diffusion of contaminants, the chemical-physical processes regulating their distribution in the environmental as well as their transfer to the ecosystem and the human body. The Project also investigates the molecular mechanisms responsible for the onset of diseases associated with exposure to pollutants using model animal organisms performing in vivo and in vitro experiments. A better understanding of the association among pollutants and selected diseases, specific for each study area, was identified on the basis of available epidemiological knowledge. In A longitudinal epidemiological study has been planned based on the recruitment of a birth cohort in order to investigate the potential risks associated with lifestyles adopted by pregnant women residing in areas with high environmental impact. The role of the placenta in mediating fetal exposure to environmental toxicants, maternal blood and cord blood, their association with placental physiology, pregnancy outcomes, and pathologies in pediatric age will be investigated. The study will focus on the possible effect of prenatal exposure on numerous health conditions, including respiratory disorders, obesity, cognitive and behavioral disorders, infectious and chronic-degenerative diseases.

The project has also the purpose to communicate and disseminate the results and to perform training activities on environment and health. Dissemination and training activities are designed for a large audience (local stakeholders, teachers, students, specialized scientific communities, etc.) and can be found on the CISAS website: www.cisas.cnr.it


Mario Sprovieri received a Ph.D. in Geochemistry (1997) from the University of Palermo. He is currently acting Director and senior researcher at the Institute of Anthropic Impacts and Sustainability in the marine environment (IAS-CNR). His research is mainly focused on: i) understanding the distribution and pathways of inorganic and organic pollutants in highly contaminated worldwide distributed marine coastal zones and open sea of the Mediterranean basin, ii) investigation of the dynamics of chemical tracers in the present Mediterranean basin and their interaction with lithosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, iii) understanding of natural variability and evolution of paleoclimate and paleoceanography during the Cretaceous and late Neogene (by multi-proxy analysis of stable isotopes, trace metals, faunal assemblage distribution, etc). He was involved as Principal Investigator in the EUROCEANS, EARTHTIME, JERICO, PERSEUS and SESAME, GTSnext ITN EU, BLUEMED H2020, CIRCLES H2020 and as coordinator and principal researcher in several national and international programs focused on distribution of micro-pollutants in different coastal areas. He is coordinator of the project CISAS (FISR-MIUR), SOS Piattaforme & Impatti Offshre (MATTM), MARINE HAZARD (PON03) and other national reserach projects (PRIN2018, PNRA2019, etc.). He has served on many international science panels, on Committees of the CNR. He is co-author of several international science plans and co-author of over than 170 papers in peer-review journals in paleoceanography, stratigraphy and environmental science. He is responsible for the National Program “Biogeochemistry of the marine environment” for the CNR.