ECOTREE (Ecotoxicology of Rare Earth Elements in Aquatic Systems) is a research project funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) and the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR).

Evolution of REEs

Rare Earth Elements (REEs) are used in high-tech devices (e.g., liquid crystal displays, communication devices, solar panels) and other applications (e.g., contrast agents in medicine, electric motors, batteries). Anthropogenic use is disrupting the biogeochemical cycle of REE and enrichments of La, Ce, Nd, Sm and Gd are already detectable in waters. The current literature on REE-associated health effects is mostly confined to three REE, thus the information for several REE remains relatively scarce, notwithstanding their growing industrial utilization and, hence, environmental spread and human exposures.

Variation of REEs' ecotoxicity

So far, no regulatory thresholds for REE concentrations and emissions to the environment have been set because information on risks from REEs is scarce. However, evidence gathers that REEs have to be acknowledged as new, emerging contaminants with manifold ways of entry into the environment.

Up to now, no consensus exists as to whether the ecotoxicity of REEs varies in a predictable way, as it happens for their atomic properties. Such consensus is actually critical considering that all REE likely share a common mechanism of action with potentially additive effects on living organisms.

REE occurence in water systems

ECOTREE is a multidisciplinary project organized in eight work packages to generate results for a complete understanding of the relationship between REE occurrence in water systems, their dynamics and speciation, the exposure pathway of aquatic species and their environmental impacts developed in an Aspect Oriented Programming (AOP) framework.

> Learn more on the research aspects of ECOTREE. 

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