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I have the privilege to be writing this blog entry right after the third TreatRec meeting finished. As the title reads, we are halfway through the project (wait, what? Are you f*****g serious!!? – Yes, I am). And so, I want to dedicate this blog entry to all the TreatRec members and professionals I have come across so far, but especially to my dear project fellows.

It is Saturday the 26th of November, 19.00 pm and I find myself writing my next blog entry sitting on the tram 51 in Brussels. I am trying to arrive to my friend’s apartment to celebrate the Thanksgiving dinner. To be honest, it is the first time I am going to celebrate this American tradition. However, my friend comes from Canada so I suppose he is used to it. Apparently, besides Canada, this festivity is also common in US and some Caribbean islands and it was originally celebrated to give thanks for the blessing of the harvest of the preceding year. I believe this is the reason why they always prepare really large meals on this Day!

Last week I attended a Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) networking event at KU Leuven. The MCAA is an association for current and past researchers benefitting from funding through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) and this event was organized by the MCAA BeNeLux chapter.

So far we looked at the causes of pollution as our intrinsic ability to create waste as a by-product of life and why the properties of certain pollutants like plastics or fine chemicals make them so useful yet dangerous for our planet. I promised you to finish on a positive note and to show that it is not all bad in the world of pollution control. It is time to take action and I invite you to look at the latest developments in the field together with me.

To fail! Nowadays we are surrounded by the myth of the efficiency. We are told that the “performance principles” is something we should ALWAYS keep in mind. This goes together with the meritocracy and the idea of “the more you get, the best you ore”. There could be some voice out of the choir saying something different, but they are basically overwhelmed by the western standards which are (they already have) invading the rest of the world as well. There is a narcissistic egoism which generates fights and conflict among us and the people around us, and these fight are mostly due to the self-success.

 

Dear reader,

Finally, I find myself in front of the computer (I spend way too much time in front of a computer these days), just a few hours before I submit my first paper. Probably. I hope so.
Anyway! Before I give myself to the tedious, farfetched and overcomplicated process that submitting a paper has become, I thought I would write this letter of advice since, although it is too late for me now, maybe I can spare you some of the pain.

The first step out of many is done. And what do I mean with that expression? I only wanted to say that I have just sent the (first) draft of my first paper to my supervisors. And what is it about? So it evaluates the influence of uncertainty on the selection of measures to reduce concentrations of pharmaceuticals in rivers. And how do I feel? I feel that a PhD entails a lot of work (still ok, though)

Trying to answer why is there man-made pollution we previously looked at the causes of pollution and considered that each and every one of us is a polluter either by not knowing better or being inconsiderate in our actions (and an unethical percentage of us, unfortunately, by choice). Now let us take a closer look at pollutants that are especially important due to the severity of their adverse effects even at low quantities. Herein, I will concentrate on the chemicals and the pollution by plastics, since they are the most known and feared pollutants in the society.

I am now arrived in Belgium and have started my secondment at water company Aquafin where I will spend the next year and a half. It is quite different from my past year in the research group of Lequia at the University of Girona in terms of… pretty much everything. Not only is it another country with different culture and customs, but the atmosphere of the university lab compared to a company office is also quite different.