Grupos de investigación

Emergin Pollutans Detections


Our work focus in different aspect of the atmospheric contamination. The characterization of particulate matter is an important objective, this particulate is a common component of the atmosphere because this particle can have a natural origin however, we can also have particulate matter coming from an anthropogenic origin.  Particulate matter is classified according to its size into ten microns particulate matter as PM10 or PM2.5, corresponding to particulate matter of 10 or 2.5 microns.

One of our most important achievements was the detection for the first time of microplastics in Antarctic atmospheric air. In addition to microplastics, the researchers have discovered the presence of other anthropogenic aerosols such as black carbon, biological aerosols such as bacteria and minerals, including ammonium nitrate, syngenite and nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizers.
The results of the work, published in the scientific journal Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, show that some pollutants manage to penetrate the Antarctic atmosphere, coming from nearby areas or from the increasing number of tourist cruise ships and the intense maritime traffic in Cape Horn. "These pollutants have been trapped in the air filters of a collector located on Deception Island, one of the cleanest and purest enclaves on our planet. This shows the severity and extent of the environmental pollution we are witnessing."

"To our knowledge, these are the first measurements of microplastic particulate aerosols in the Antarctic atmosphere. In addition, the potential origin of these aerosols was studied, revealing four different local anthropogenic sources for carbon particles, together with a probable long-range transport in the atmosphere for microplastic and bacterial particles," explains Jorge Cáceres, researcher at the UCM Department of Analytical Chemistry.

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In adition, we developed a new protocol for particulate matter characterization in filters by micro laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy. The final obtained analytical performance of micro-LIBS analysis on filters is high in terms of sensitivity (ppb-level), lateral resolution (40 μm) and operating speed (100 Hz). LIBS elemental microanalysis of PM has a considerable potential for characterization of aerosol on filters, opening interesting perspectives for future air pollution monitoring systems.

Studies carried out in Antarctica have shown that "there is a hundred times more lead in the atmospheric particulate matter than in the soil, and about eight hundred times more chromium, which means that they are not native to the area, so they come from somewhere else, from the upper atmosphere".

You can read more about this at Tribuna Complutense:


See for example: 

  • Marina-Montes, C.; Motto-Ros, V.; Pérez-Arribas, L.V.; Anzano, J.; Millán-Martínez, M.; Cáceres, J.O. 

    Aerosol analysis by micro laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy: A new protocol for particulate matter characterization in filters.


    Analytica Chimica Acta, Vol. 1181 (2021)

  • Abás, E.; Marina-Montes, C.; Laguna, M.; Lasheras, R.; Rivas, P.; Peribáñez, P.; del Valle, J.; Escudero, M.; Velásquez, A.; Cáceres, J.O.; Pérez-Arribas, L.V.; Anzano, J. 

    Evidence of human impact in Antarctic region by studying atmospheric aerosols.


    Chemosphere, Vol. 307 135706 (2022)

  • Marina-Montes, C.; Pérez-Arribas, L.V.; Anzano, J.; de Vallejuelo, S.F.O.; Aramendia, J.; Gómez-Nubla, L.; de Diego, A.; Manuel Madariaga, J.; Cáceres, J.O. 

    Characterization of atmospheric aerosols in the Antarctic region using Raman Spectroscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy.


    Spectrochimica Acta - Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, Vol. 266 120452 (2022)

  • Marina-Montes, C.; Pérez-Arribas, L.V.; Escudero, M.; Anzano, J.; Cáceres, J.O. 

    Heavy metal transport and evolution of atmospheric aerosols in the Antarctic region.


    Science of the Total Environment, Vol. 721(2020)

  • Marina-Montes, C.; Pérez-Arribas, L.V.; Anzano, J.; Cáceres, J.O. 

    Local and remote sources of airborne suspended particulate matter in the antarctic region.


    Atmosphere, Vol. 11, Núm. 4 (2020)

  • Cáceres, J.O.; Sanz-Mangas, D.; Manzoor, S.; Pérez-Arribas, L.V.; Anzano, J. 

    Quantification of particulate matter, tracking the origin and relationship between elements for the environmental monitoring of the Antarctic region.


    Science of the Total Environment, Vol. 665, pp. 125-132