Ocean and Human Health

In the division of Ocean and Human Health, we strive to better understand the relationship between the marine environment, humans, and human influences on the marine environment. This results in research on the health status of the ocean, as well as research on the psychological, physiological and physical effects of the ocean on human health and well-being. We investigate the extent to which human activities in and around the ocean, affect biodiversity and ocean functioning. There is a clear link with the coastal climate change research theme, as interactions between ocean health and human health are studied in the context of a changing climate.

Person of Contact: Dr Gert Everaert (Gert.Everaert@vliz.be)

Ocean and Human Health

Research groups linked to Ocean Health and Human health

1. Life’s Roots and Rates: Examines the influence of microbial systems on humans, and how human activities change how microbial systems are functioning.   

2. Nature Changes & Solutions: Studies how species interact with each other and their environment to understand how these marine ecosystems work. VLIZ aims to combine seascape ecology, community ecology and evolutionary biology to gain better insights into the functioning of marine ecosystems.

3.  Ocean & Human Health: Aims to improve our understanding of the public health benefits (or drawbacks) from marine and coastal ecosystems and to evaluate the applicability and elucidate the reasons behind the Blue Gym hypothesis.

4. Plastics in Local and Global Waters: Investigates the exposure, effects, and associated risks of plastic pollution in aquatic environments. The group places particular emphasis on exploring the combined impacts of plastic pollution with other human-induced stressors, such as climate change and chemical pollution.



Recent and relevant publications

  • Boyen, J., Ribes‐Navarro, A., Kabeya, N., Monroig, Ó., Rigaux, A., Fink, P., Hablützel, P.I., Navarro, J.C., De Troch, M., 2023. Functional characterization reveals a diverse array of metazoan fatty acid biosynthesis genes. Mol Ecol 32, 970–982. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.16808


  • Catarino, A.I., Asselman, J., Niu, Z., Everaert, G., 2022. Micro- and nanoplastics effects in a multiple stressed marine environment. Journal of Hazardous Materials Advances 7, 100119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hazadv.2022.100119


  • Hooyberg, A., Roose, H., Grellier, J., Elliott, L.R., Lonneville, B., White, M.P., Michels, N., De Henauw, S., Vandegehuchte, M., Everaert, G., 2020. General health and residential proximity to the coast in Belgium: Results from a cross-sectional health survey. Environ Res 184, 109225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2020.109225


  • Van Acker, E., De Rijcke, M., Liu, Z., Asselman, J., De Schamphelaere, K.A.C., Vanhaecke, L., Janssen, C.R., 2021. Sea Spray Aerosols Contain the Major Component of Human Lung Surfactant. Environ Sci Technol 55, 15989–16000. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.1c04075