National Institute for Environmental Studies
Center for Health and Environmental Risk Research

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Research Fields

Environmental Risk Research Field

Using science to reduce environmental risks and to achieve a safe society

In the field of environmental risk, our research includes the development of advanced ecotoxicity testing methods, assessment systems to elucidate the ecological impacts of chemicals, methods to determine environmental exposure and the impact of environmental chemicals, and measures to clarify exposure and impacts of chemicals on inshore ecosystems through field surveys and laboratory experiments. We are also conducting studies of the environmental fate and assessing the exposure of ecosystems to chemicals, and conducting systematic management of the risks associated with environmental chemicals. This research is conducted collaboratively with the center’s projects in the field of environmental health related to the impact of environmental chemicals on human health. The findings from this research are being applied in the real world as risk assessment science.

The Ecotoxicity Research Section is developing ecotoxicity test methods and models to assess the ecological impact of chemicals from molecular to organism level such as quantitative structure activity relationship (QSAR), in vivo testing, and statistical analysis.
The Environmental Exposure and Effects Research Section is developing methods to determine exposure to environmental chemicals and the impacts of environmental chemicals on human health and the environment. This section focuses on developing advanced analytical methods to detect chemical substances with ligand–receptor binding activities, high molecular-weight biological substances, and mutagenic or carcinogenic substances in the environment. The section is also conducting research to elucidate the relationships between exposure to environmental chemicals and their effects on health.
The Ecosystem Impact Research Section is using field studies, laboratory experiments, and ecosystem model analyses to develop countermeasures for the recovery of biotas and environmental remediation based on historical data and assessment of the present state of coastal ecosystems exposed to various anthropogenic stressors arising from human activities.
The Strategic Risk Management Research Section is studying aspects important for modeling the environmental fate and emissions of chemicals, assessing the exposure and risks of environmental chemicals, assessing the ecological impacts of environmental disturbances, and systematically managing the risks to health and the environment posed by environmental chemicals while taking into consideration the many risk factors.

Environmental Risk Research Field

Environmental Risk Research Laboratory

Research Facility

Environmental Risk Research Laboratory: This research laboratory is the core of the center’s environmental risk research. The laboratory conducts research on the ecological impacts of environmental chemicals and assesses the health effects of exposure to environmental chemicals. The first floor is dedicated to research on the ecological impact of environmental chemicals in aquatic organisms. The second floor houses various instruments for chemical analyses (e.g., gas chromatography- tandem mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry) and a confocal laser microscope. In vitro bioassays to assess environmental quality are also conducted on the second floor. The fourth floor is divided into two areas: one for gathering, analyzing, and assessing information regarding the risks associated with chemical substances; and one for conducting animal testing to clarify the health risks associated with exposure to environmental chemicals.

Environmental Health Research Field

Preventing adverse health effects associated with environmental factors and reducing these risks for future generations

Our research in the field of environmental health aims to experimentally investigate and assess the health impacts of environmental factors and the underlying modes of action, develop simple and fast systems to assess exposure and impact, and conduct epidemiological surveys and studies to identify the impacts of environmental chemicals on health. Specifically, we are working to assess the health impacts of environmental chemicals, metals, atmospheric pollutants, and nanomaterials; and to establish, improve, and verify methods of assessing these impacts. We are also using genomics and epigenetics studies to clarify the mechanisms of action underlying the effects of environmental chemicals. In addition, we are working to integrate, systematize, improve, and refine the epidemiological assessment of these health impacts.

Environmental Health Research Field

The Molecular Pathology Section is evaluating the effects of environmental substances, including environmental chemicals, on the pathology of diseases such as immune and metabolic diseases. This research also focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying changes in biological crosstalk and epigenetic changes.
The Health Effect Assessment Section is developing methodologies to evaluate the neuropathological and social behavioral effects of environmental factors, and contributes to the identification of health-threatening chemicals, reduction of the adverse effects of environmental chemicals, and development of precautionary approaches.
The Integrated Health Risk Research Section is developing biomarkers of neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, genotoxicity, and inhalational toxicity based on the physico-chemical characteristics of harmful environmental substances such as fibrous nanomaterials.
The Exposure Dynamics Research Section is focusing on measuring and estimating lifetime exposures to environmental stressors that may cause adverse health effects. These environmental stressors include chemical substances, the physical environment, and diet, as well as the socio-economic and community environment. Human biomonitoring and exposure modeling are key tools in this research.
The Environmental Epidemiology Section is involved in developing epidemiological methods and applications for estimating and assessing the health impacts of exposure to harmful environmental chemicals.

Environmental Health Research Field

Research facilities

Animal Laboratory: This laboratory conducts experiments using laboratory animals and tissue and cell cultures to investigate the effects of various environmental chemicals on human health and determine whether environmental pollutants have adverse effects on human health.
Nanoparticle Health Effect Laboratory: The urban atmosphere remains polluted with particulate substances emitted from automobiles. Therefore, this laboratory investigates the effects of ultrafine particles contained in diesel exhaust and environmental nanoparticles on human health. The Nanoparticle Health Effect Laboratory is connected with the Animal Laboratory building and is equipped with advanced inhalational exposure chambers.

Animal Laboratory and Nanoparticle Health Effect Laboratory