Brighton joins team to remove harmful hormone-changing pollutants from the environment
The University of Brighton will be part of a project which aims to rid the environment of hormone changing pollutants which can lead to extreme health conditions in humans.
EU Interreg Channel’s Project RedPol is part of a €1.96m operation which involves researchers from six partners made up of four universities (Brighton, Portsmouth, Caen and Le Harve), French company TOXEM and existing University of Brighton collaborators Chichester Harbour Conservancy.
Brighton will receive around €300,000 for its part in the project, which will be led by Dr Corina Ciocan, Senior Lecturer in the university’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences and the Centre for Aquatic Environments.
The project focuses on endocrine disruptors – chemicals which can interfere with hormonal systems and cause developmental disorders, birth defects and cancerous tumours. The chemicals can also have a drastic impact on the wider environment and wildlife population, potentially causing an unbalance in environmental health.
The overall aim of the project is to deliver six innovative projects which will help address the key issues, with tests developed to eliminate the chemicals at source.
Dr Ciocan and her team will investigate the pollutants in mussels and oysters. It follows a recent piece of research with Chichester Harbour Conservancy (part of the Ignite initiative which links university research with community partners) which found high quantities of glass microfibres in oysters and was recently featured on BBC One’s Countryfile at the end of July 2020.
Dr Ciocan said: “Concerns about the endocrine disruptors have been growing since the 1990s, however this issue still remains a global challenge. Our project aims to develop tests and knowledge to better characterise those chemical compounds, likely to affect the hormonal system in aquatic organisms and humans.
The University of Brighton’s RedPol team will employ state of the art mass spectrometry, histology and molecular biology techniques to detect biomarkers, or early signals that can predict a hormonal change in the organisms following exposure to endocrine disruptors. The results will be developed into applications for monitoring chemicals and for better environmental assessment.”