Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Should modern living carry a health warning?

14.09.2007
A new £4.4m partnership programme to explore the impacts of modern living on our health has just started to fund its first research projects.

The Environment and Human Health Programme comprises 37 projects that cover a broad field of environmental concerns linked to human health, including inhalation of nanoparticles, long-term exposure to pollution in urban environments, harmful algal toxins, climate change and emerging diseases – perhaps resulting from changing agricultural practices.

Professor Mike Moore, Science Co-ordinator for the programme, said “We know that human activity has an impact on our environment but what is not known, in many cases, is what impact environmental degradation is having on our health. The natural environment contributes to our health in many ways, for example through the quality of air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink.”

The programme identifies and prioritises research areas where the natural environment and human health interact, and is building a community of scientists in the UK committed to researching this relationship. Their research should improve our ability to identify and predict emerging health concerns, and will also improve the evidence available to support risk assessments and regulation-setting by the government and other policy makers.

One of the newest emerging concerns is the possible hazard to human health from engineered nanoparticles in our environment. Nanotechnology involves manipulating material and creating devices on a nanometre scale (a nanometre is one thousand-millionth of a metre). The environmental behaviour of engineered nanoparticles is currently unknown and their potential to harm human health is a major concern. Their miniscule size means they can easily be inhaled, ingested or absorbed without knowledge. The particles are currently used in over 200 commercial products including sunblocks, creams, cosmetics and fabric coatings, and are inevitably entering the environment either through manufacturing discharge, accidental spillage or general use.

In one of the projects, researchers will be investigating the possible effects of nanoparticles in the body by introducing two widely used types of engineered nanoparticle to synthetic lung lining liquid and blood plasma (a liquid component of blood). They will test how the synthetic liquids affect the physical properties of the nanoparticles, and the most and least reactive particles will then be tested with primary human lung cells to find out whether the more reactive particles are of danger to our health.

Lead investigator, Dr Eva Valsami-Jones from the Natural History Museum, said, “The ecological cost of many emerging technologies is not yet known. Nanotechnology is already widely used and standard toxicity tests are not necessarily effective as nanoparticles do not behave like their larger counterparts. During these first stage tests we will be looking for any physical changes to the nanoparticles when introduced to liquids such as blood plasma. We will look for changes to their size and structure, and test their ability to dissolve or accumulate. Dissolved particles could be a cause for concern as they may release potentially toxic components.”

The 37 projects all started this year and will be completed in 2008 and 2009. Environment and Human Health is led by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and is a partnership programme supported by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Environment Agency (EA); the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra); the Ministry of Defence (MOD); the Medical Research Council (MRC); the Welcome Trust; the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC); the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC); the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Health Protection Agency (HPA)

Marion O'Sullivan | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nerc.ac.uk/research/programmes/humanhealth/
http://www.hpa.org.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New bioimaging technique is fast and economical

21.08.2017 | Medical Engineering

Silk could improve sensitivity, flexibility of wearable body sensors

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections

21.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>