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Research Program on Risk Assessment and Control of Environmental Chemicals

Research Program on Risk Assessment and Control of Environmental Chemicals: Center for Environmental Risk Resarch

 In recent years, management of chemical substances has incorporated the perspective for assessing the impact of chemical substances on living organisms in the environment. Which are involved in contains, among other things, regulatory schemes based on the results of risk assessment in The Act Concerning the Examination and Regulation of Manufacture of Chemical Substances (as amended in 2009), environmental quality standards of waters for the protection of aquatic life, and setting the values for criteria to withhold the registration of agricultural chemicals. However, idea of ecosystem protection is not fully entrenched in risk assessment. Accordingly, we need to focus on the development of evaluation techniques. With respect to the effects of nanomaterials on human health and ecosystems, the conventional techniques for hazard assessment may not be able to evaluate them to the full extent. In order to address these issues, we will carry out three projects: 1. Research on methodology for ecological risk assessment and management of chemical substances; 2. Development of methodology for evaluation of the toxicity of nanomaterials and research on their safety, and the proposal of a theoretical framework from which to draw appropriate methods to control their environmental risks; and 3. Research on strategic approaches to the management of risks of chemical substances.

Project 1

Research on methodology for ecological risk assessment and management of chemical substances


 We will investigate methods by which to estimate the adverse effects of chemical substances on ecosystems as their potential to make populations of living organisms extinct or their potential to degrade ecosystem function. Based on toxicity tests using laboratory animals, we will ascertain ecologically what we can predict with respect to the protection of ecosystems. We will then develop methods for ecological assessment and data analysis which are necessary to correctly evaluate effects of environmental contamination on ecosystems. Furthermore, we will develop analytical methods for capturing the ecological risks from chemical substances, such as endocrine disruptors, which are difficult to evaluate for risk in terms of the effect at the level of populations of living organisms. With the aim of contributing to risk evaluation necessary for the promotion of environmental action plans, we will construct a mathematical model to evaluate the effects of chemical substances on ecosystems, on the basis of which new methodology will be developed for ecological risk evaluation.

figure:PJ1_Research on methodology for ecological risk assessment and management of chemical substances


Project 2

Development of methodology for the evaluation of the toxicity of nanomaterials and research on their safety


 We will ascertain the fate of carbon nanotubes and silver nanoparticles in the human body as well as in environmental indicator organisms. At the same time, we will conduct experimental research on the toxicity of these substances so as to identify the physico-chemical characteristics of nanomaterials affecting on human health and ecosystems. Specifically, we will establish testing methods for nanomaterials, focusing on their shape, dispersibility, and surface charge, with the aim of contributing to the formulation of international guidelines for safety evaluation of substances having nanostructures while keeping pace with the trends set by international organizations, such as UNEP, OECD, and ISO. Furthermore, we will propose risk assessment methodology based on new concepts using the outcomes of this project for particulate matters as well as hard-to-test substances.

figure:PJ2_Development of methodology for the evaluation of the toxicity of nanomaterials and research on their safety


Project 3

Research on strategic approaches to the management of risks of chemical substances


 There are numerous chemical substances, each of which has different effects and characteristics. In this project, we will investigate strategic approaches to manage risks posed by various chemical substances. Specifically, we will develop a model for predicting spatio-temporal changes in agricultural chemicals, as well as a global multimedia model for predicting the fate of POPs. We will also develop and study emission and exposure scenarios through the whole lifecycle of substances  from their manufacture to disposal. We will also consider strategies for ways to manage the different risk dimensions of various chemical substances in society. We then will organize the results of these research activities and propose methodology and ideas for making the evaluation and management of risks of chemical substances more efficient.

figure:PJ3_Research on strategic approaches to the management of risks of chemical substances