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"We want to understand the complexity of human activities¿

In a few weeks’ time, FRAM-researcher Pedro Inostroza will travel to Chile to take samples along the Aconcagua river. – We will take samples of organic chemicals, metals and nutrients at nine places along the river, says Pedro Inostroza, postdoc at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at University of Gothenburg.

The Aconcagua river is about 142 kilometers long and runs through five Chilean provinces, supporting a number of cities along its way. Agriculture, mining and chemical production are the most important economic activities in the area. Consequently, several studies show that the ecosystem is polluted by pesticide residues and heavy metals.
Pedro Inostroza’s research group has received information both from such scientific articles and from governmental reports.
– So, we have a rough idea of which the main sources of pollution are, and where we will find pesticides, pharmaceuticals and nutrients, he says.
The Chilean government measure basic things in the river, mainly metals.
– But we want to understand the complexity of human activities. We will measure more chemicals and metals than the government, but also do the evaluation afterwards, says Pedro Inostroza.
The group will do the sampling for three weeks, and then another three weeks of lab work in Chile. After that, the samples will be brought back to Europe and analyzed within FRAM, together with The Environmental Research Centre in Leipzig.
This will hopefully result in an evaluation of the chemical and biological status of the river, but also in an updated regulation. Are the existing levels exceeding the regulation in Chile? And what regulation do they have in Chile, compared to other countries?

Once there is knowledge about what areas are polluted, and on what levels, the authorities can start doing something about the regulation.
- This is a wonderful opportunity for all the parties involved, including the Chilean society. To make this information public through the universities will benefit everyone, says Pedro Inostroza.