Marine pollution

We focus on hazardous substances in the marine environment, microbial communities in polar seas and sea ice, degradation of bioplastics, and processes related to biogeochemical cycles. Our main expertise covers the fields of ecotoxicology, microbial ecology, molecular biology, marine chemistry, underwater noise and hydroacoustics.

We lend our expertise to the assessment of ecological impacts of oil spills in the Baltic Sea and actively carry out research on the biodegradation of oils under different environmental conditions and microbial communities related to the processes. Our key activities include also studies on the effects of hazardous substances on marine biota, including the effects of oils, microplastics and toxic chemicals contained in sea-dumped munitions.

We comply with the national marine monitoring programme on concentrations and biological effects of hazardous substances in fish in coastal and open sea areas, as well as underwater noise. We actively participate in the development of monitoring, assessment and restoration methods concerning hazardous substances.

Sukeltaja meren pohjassa, vesi on sakeaa ja edessä ui kirkas meduusa.
Photo: Anu Lastumäki

Key projects

  • Strengthening the knowledge base to improve the state of coastal waters in the Archipelago Sea region (MAAMERI)
    This extensive collaboration project funded by the Finnish Ministry of the Environment focuses on the discharge and impacts of nutrients (especially phosphorus) of terrestrial origin along coastal-open sea gradients of the Archipelago Sea with the aim to develop the knowledge base for the development of monitoring and assessment tools for environmental impacts of nutrient loading.
  • Chemical warfare agents in the Baltic Sea: biotransformation products and their toxicity (WARTOX) 
    The WARTOX project, co-funded by the Academy of Finland, focuses on the degradation products of chemical warfare agents generated by microbial activity in Baltic Sea sediments, and their bioaccumulation and toxicity to aquatic organisms.
  • Biodegradable plastic polymers in ocean coastal waters – degrader communities and their enzymes (BIPOD) 
    BIPOD investigates the degradation rates of bioplastics and the biofilm community formation, functional strategies, and degradation enzymes of marine microbes at four different sites in coastal waters across Europe, utilizing a suite of the latest molecular methods in microbial ecology. The project is co-funded by the Academy of Finland.
  • Iron limitation of primary productivity in the Marginal Ice Zone of the Southern Ocean –unraveling the role of bacteria as mediators in the iron cycle 
    The role of iron circulating via planktonic bacteria in the regulation of primary production in the Southern Ocean is investigated in this project co-funded by the Antarctic Research programme of the Academy of Finland. The research will be carried out on international scientific cruises between the Marginal Ice Zone of Antarctica and the continents Africa and Australia.
  • Defining environmental criteria for the assessment of the severity of oil accidents (ÖLARVI) 
    This project, funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, focuses on the development of environmental criteria for the assessment of the severity of deliberate releases of oil occurring within the Finnish Exclusive Economic Zone. The outcomes of the project are also applicable for the assessment of the impacts of accidental oil spills.

Recent publications

Contact information

Marine pollution

Any questions?

Head of Unit Kari Lehtonen

Investigation of a possible high-risk shipwreck in Utö waters 2022-08-29
The marine research vessel Aranda is on the southeast side of Utö this week. A preliminary investigation of the tugboat Simson, which sank in 1978, is underway for a possible oil removal operation.
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Published 2022-03-18 at 11:21, updated 2022-03-18 at 11:35
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