On September 8th, 2023, a Short Symposium entitled “Indoor contaminants” was held at the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health in Zagreb. The symposium’s main goal was to share and discuss findings from the project “Development, validation and application of analytical methods for PBDE determination”, DeValApp (HrZZ-UIP-2017-05-6713).
The project started in 2018 as part of the program “Installation Research Projects” financed by the Croatian Science Foundation with the main goal of establishing new research groups of young scientists that will engage in innovative research topics. The purpose of the project was to develop and validate analytical methods for determining specific polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) congeners in complex samples of house dust and human milk. Results on PBDE levels and distribution in samples are the first of their kind in Croatia, and were further used to assess the exposure of the general population to PBDEs.
The project team successfully completed all the tasks set in the work plan, and in collaboration with other groups, further expanded its research. Until now, the project’s results were published in 11 scientific papers (9 of which were published in journals placed in the first quartile of the category according to Journal Citation Report), 20 symposium abstracts, 1 doctoral thesis, 1 diploma thesis, and 1 leaflet intended for the general population. During the course of the project, team members participated in several dozen specialized trainings to obtain new knowledge and skills, but they also transferred their own knowledge by holding student internships, presenting project results and bringing science closer to the wider population, including the youngest (children in kindergartens and elementary schools). The Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts supported this project with their grants twice, and two rewards were received by the team members from the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health for publications.
The presented results show the success of this project, but its greatest value is the formed research group and the scientific foundation that has been created, which enables further research to contribute to general knowledge about pollutants in our environment and their impact on human health.
The scientific programme of this Short Symposium was divided into two sessions where the outcomes of five-year research project were presented. These findings included concepts developed during project implementation that covered novel research areas and opened up opportunities for collaboration with other research groups. Also, participants had the opportunity for a fruitful discussion which opened up new possibilities for further investigations into various environmental and human samples.
A total of 50 people attended the symposium, and the DeValApp team hosted eminent scientists Dr Jelena Živančev and Dr Nataša Đurišić-Mladenović from the University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Technology, Novi Sad, Serbia, who delivered inspiring lectures presenting the Horizon Europe Twinning project (TwiNSol-CECs) as well as their experience in areas of the environmental protection and monitoring of different classes of contaminants.
The team headed by Darija Klinčić, PhD express their gratitude to the Croatian Science Foundation and the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health for their support, which was crucial to the overall success of the Short Symposium and project itself.