LIFE DIOXDETECTOR - Fast Direct Atmospheric Dioxin Detection

LIFE12 ENV/ES/000729

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Contact details:

Contact person: Marta GÓMEZ
Tel: 34983546504
Fax: 34983546521
Email: margom@cartif.es

Project description:


Incineration of municipal solid waste releases highly toxic pollutants into the environment. The gases emitted are persistent organic pollutants, including dioxins, which are highly toxic and bioaccumulative in the food chain. These pollutants can travel long distances and have an adverse affect on people and the environment.

The term ‘dioxin’ refers to 75 congeners of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD) and 135 polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDF). Among these compounds, 17 contain chlorine atoms and are toxic to, and can accumulate in the environment, animals and humans.

Dioxins are responsible for a variety of health problems. The most toxic of the dioxins has been classified as a ‘true human carcinogen’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Research shows that they contribute to the local pollution of soils and vegetation and have a negative impact on the health of exposed populations. However, such analysis is difficult to carry out. The high toxicity of these compounds at very low concentrations means very sensitive analysis techniques are necessary.


The main objective of the project is to apply a new analytical technique for the quantification of dioxin, and the continuous tracking of PCDDs/PCDFs concentrations in air, soil and biota (vegetal) in the area surroundings a municipal solid waste (MSW) incineration facility. The new analytical technique will help to evaluate the dispersion and deposition of these pollutants in the environment, thereby facilitating efforts to reduce their environmental impact.

The project proposes a new analytical approach, based on the combination of a secondary electrospray ionizer that achieves very high ionization efficiency, a differential mobility analyser that select ions according to their mobility, and that has very good transmission, and a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer. The proposed technology is capable of detecting vapours below the level of parts per quadrillion (ppq) and could help to establish security measures to protect the population and the environment.

Expected results:

  • Improvements in the analytical equipment itself: - Increased operating temperature, above 400°C, in order to detect dioxins; - Greater sensitivities (concentrations) of up to 10fg/100ml of air; - Ability to separate different dioxin congeners, according to their physical properties.
  • Specific results related to the evolution of dioxin concentrations, from their emission to their deposition in the different environments. These results will provide a better understanding of the dioxin pathways, thereby providing a greater insight into the problem of population exposure, and thus allowing it to be tackled more efficiently.



Environmental issues addressed:


Air & Noise - Air quality monitoring
Risk management - Pollution control


monitoring system‚  air pollution‚  hazardous substance

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Type of organisation Research institution
Description The Cartif foundation is active in a number of scientific disciplines, including automation and process control, mechanical engineering, robotics and computer vision, energy, the environment, food and chemicals, ICTs and biomedical engineering. The centre is supported by laboratories that have emerged in different research areas. Cartif’s primary focus is to contribute to social and economic development by promoting technological innovation via the development and publication of research.
Partners Sociedad Europea de Análisis Diferencial de Movilidad S.L., Spain


Project reference LIFE12 ENV/ES/000729
Duration 01-OCT-2013 to 29-FEB -2016
Total budget 1,126,854.00 €
EU contribution 563,201.00 €
Project location Madrid(España)


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Project web site Project's website


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version