Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Ecotoxicology Centre inaugurated

Abstract:
At an inaugural event in Dübendorf (Zurich) today focusing on nanoparticles in the environment, the Swiss Centre for Applied Ecotoxicology was officially opened.

Ecotoxicology Centre inaugurated

Dübendorf, Switzerland | Posted on November 18th, 2008

The institution, jointly established by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), has a federal mandate to strengthen independent research, consulting and training in the ecotoxicology field.

...mehr zu:
> Centre > contaminated soil > ecotoxicology > pharmaceutical industry > wastewater treatment > water treatment

Initial projects are already under way. The event also underlined the centre's networking function, promoting contacts among experts from academia and industry.

Speaking at the event, National Councillor Maya Graf commented: "Increasingly, and at an ever accelerating pace, chemicals are being used whose effects in the environment are largely or completely unknown. Here, the Ecotoxicology Centre is filling a gap." She added that not only the federal and cantonal authorities and the public but also the chemical industry requires an independent institution to show how environmental risks posed by chemicals can be identified, assessed and reduced to a minimum. In 2002, Graf had introduced a motion on toxicology research in Switzerland, which was one of the factors leading to the decision by the Federal Council and Parliament in 2007 to request the ETH Domain to establish a centre of this kind.

Richard Gamma, Deputy Director General of the SGCI (Swiss chemical and pharmaceutical industry association), also welcomed the establishment of the new centre: "For the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, it is extremely important to have high-quality education and training, based on sound research activities but nonetheless practice-oriented." In his view, an independent centre could offer expertise for industry and the authorities and build up a higher level of credibility in the eyes of the public than would be possible for industry acting alone.

Research, consulting, networking

Almut Gerhardt, the head of the centre, said: "We want to detect problems arising from chemicals in the environment at an early stage and help to resolve them." Gerhardt, a biologist, is an expert on environmental tests. Her work has included the development of methods for integrated monitoring of water quality in rivers and streams. Where gaps exist, tests and assessment methods are to be developed at the Ecotoxicology Centre. Existing approaches are to be refined, e.g. for measuring endocrine substances in waterbodies or for assessing contaminated soils. Just as important as the centre's own research efforts, in Gerhardt's view, is the "hub" function which it is to serve: a network bringing together practitioners and researchers, as well as manufacturers and users, should promote dialogue on the latest findings in ecotoxicology, both nationally and internationally. This will be supported by an expert database and participation in scientific committees. Gerhardt attaches particular importance to the education and training of professionals. A series of seminars has already been initiated.

Initial projects launched

A number of projects are already under way at the Ecotoxicology Centre. For example, a test for endocrine substances in watercourses is currently being optimized. This project, carried out in cooperation with the Federal Office for the Environment, is studying how effectively such substances can be removed, or their toxic potential reduced, by an additional purification step at wastewater treatment plants. In collaboration with cantonal laboratories, authorities and agencies, the Ecotoxicology Centre is investigating whether substances released by epoxy resins produce toxic effects. Epoxy resins are used as internal coatings for sealing pipes. In the area of terrestrial ecotoxicology, the centre is to carry out important development work. In many cases, existing OECD toxicity tests involving earthworms or springtails are too time-consuming or costly to be used in practice.

Spotlight on nanoparticles

The presentations comprising the scientific part of the opening event focused on nanoparticles. These microscopic particles (1 nanometre = a millionth of a millimetre) are being increasingly used in a wide variety of products, ranging from paints and stain-resistant finishes to cosmetics. Over the past two years, the number of products boasting properties attributable to silver nanoparticles alone has risen tenfold. Silver nanoparticles are being used to enhance not only socks and underwear but also detergents and food packaging. Clearly, these nanomaterials subsequently enter the environment, as confirmed by recent studies carried out by the Urban Water Management and Environmental Toxicology departments at Eawag. For example, silver nanoparticles that are added to facade paints to provide antialgal and antifungal protection are washed out by rainwater. Antimicrobial effects that are desirable in the original products may prove to be problematic in the environment: according to an Eawag study (pdf, 3MB) just published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, silver nanoparticles are even more toxic to algae than dissolved ionic silver, with the effects being observed at very low concentrations. This may cause problems not only in natural waters but also at wastewater treatment plants, where nanosilver could inhibit biodegradation processes and thus reduce the effectiveness of treatment. For this reason, says Almut Gerhardt, "We intend to closely follow research on the toxicity of nanoparticles and to carry out specific additional studies ourselves."

Two sites

The headquarters of the Ecotoxicology Centre is at Eawag in Dübendorf. A second site, focusing on terrestrial ecotoxicology, has been established at the EPF in Lausanne. For special research tasks and laboratory analysis, in particular, the centre collaborates closely with the two parent organizations. The management team consists of the centre head Almut Gerhardt and one delegate each from the Eawag Directorate and the EPFL Presidency. The staff comprises 5 scientific and 2 technical employees in the centre's own laboratories, together with part-time administrators. As well as receiving federal funding of CHF 2 million per year, the centre can undertake contract research, although it is not to compete with the private sector. Alongside the Ecotoxicology Centre, Parliament has also approved the establishment of a Swiss centre for applied human toxicology; however, the location of this institution has yet to be determined.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Eawag
Überlandstrasse 133
P.O. Box 611
8600 Dübendorf
Switzerland

Phone +41 (0)44 823 55 11
Fax +41 (0)44 823 50 28

Copyright © Ecotoxicology Centre

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Atomic imperfections move quantum communication network closer to reality June 25th, 2017

Research accelerates quest for quicker, longer-lasting electronics: UC Riverside-led research makes topological insulators magnetic well above room temperatures June 25th, 2017

U.S. Air Force Research Lab Taps IBM to Build Brain-Inspired AI Supercomputing System: Equal to 64 million neurons, new neurosynaptic supercomputing system will power complex AI tasks at unprecedented speed and energy efficiency June 23rd, 2017

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam June 22nd, 2017

Openings/New facilities/Groundbreaking/Expansion

Aculon Expands NanoProof® Product Line for Electronics Waterproofing Technology: With growing market opportunities Aculon Launches NanoProof® 8 with Push Through Connectivity™ and NanoProof® DAB a syringe application May 30th, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Chengdu Partner to Expand FD-SOI Ecosystem in China: More than $100M investment to establish a center of excellence for FDXTM FD-SOI design May 23rd, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Expands to Meet Worldwide Customer Demand: Company invests for capacity growth in the United States, Germany, China and Singapore February 10th, 2017

Portable superconductivity systems for small motors: Cambridge University lab achieves a breakthrough for portable superconductivity systems that are applicable for small motors, health care and other uses February 8th, 2017

Announcements

Atomic imperfections move quantum communication network closer to reality June 25th, 2017

Research accelerates quest for quicker, longer-lasting electronics: UC Riverside-led research makes topological insulators magnetic well above room temperatures June 25th, 2017

U.S. Air Force Research Lab Taps IBM to Build Brain-Inspired AI Supercomputing System: Equal to 64 million neurons, new neurosynaptic supercomputing system will power complex AI tasks at unprecedented speed and energy efficiency June 23rd, 2017

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam June 22nd, 2017

Environment

Enhanced photocatalytic activity by Cu2O nanoparticles integrated H2Ti3O7 nanotubes June 21st, 2017

Can crab shells provide a 'green' solution to malaria? Study shows how a mixture of chitin and silver nanoparticles inhibits growth of mosquito larvae May 12th, 2017

NanoMONITOR shares its latest developments concerning the NanoMONITOR Software and the Monitoring stations April 21st, 2017

Wood filter removes toxic dye from water April 21st, 2017

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

Tests show no nanotubes released during utilisation of nanoaugmented materials June 9th, 2017

NanoMONITOR shares its latest developments concerning the NanoMONITOR Software and the Monitoring stations April 21st, 2017

NIST updates 'sweet' 1950s separation method to clean nanoparticles from organisms January 27th, 2017

Nanoparticle exposure can awaken dormant viruses in the lungs January 17th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project