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Dec 1, 2017 - Science and innovations
FEFU researchers expand the study of the environmental impact of exhaust gases

Researchers of Far Eastern Federal University are expanding the project to study the effect of car exhausts on the urban ecology. Together with cars, motorcycles, buses, heavy-duty, water and rail transport will be included in the study, which will make it possible to comprehensively assess the impact of exhaust particles on the environment. Large industrial centers of China and the Republic of Korea are joining the project along with Russian and European cities, where samples have already been collected.

The study is being conducted at FEFU under the guidance of the leading European toxicologist, president of the Association of European Toxicologists, EUROTOX, Aristides Tsatsakis (Greece).

“We successfully conducted the first part of the research and decided to expand the project to other types of urban transport in order to get a comprehensive picture,” said Aristides Tsatsakis. “The problem of clean air worries residents of all cities, especially in developing countries with many enterprises. Our project has already attracted the attention of our Asian colleagues who offered to conduct research in the industrial centers of China and Korea.”

To participate in a large-scale project, FEFU gathered an international network of researchers working in parallel in several large cities of Russia, Italy, Portugal, Greece, and Romania. Several thousand samples of particulate emissions have already been collected, which contain toxic substances, soot, various metals, rare earth elements, including the ones in the form of nanoparticles. Their composition, properties, reactions of cells and animals to these substances are carefully studied in the laboratory.

As a result of the studies, the participants have already reached disappointing conclusions. It has been confirmed that new vehicles are no less dangerous for the environment than older models with high mileage and engine wear. Experiments on rats showed that carbon nanofibers, which are contained in large quantities in exhausts, reduce behavioral functions and cognitive activity. New data on the impact of the exhausts on the manifestation of various allergic reactions have been obtained.

“Of course, researchers have previously assumed that automobile exhausts negatively affect the environment and health, but a strong scientific foundation is needed to make critical decisions in the regulation of pollution standards,” explained Aristides Tsatsakis. “Only by studying the issue from different angles and fixing these results, EUROTOX will be able to approach the state authorities with a proposal to adjust the existing legislation and fuel standards.”

The project is supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation and is scheduled until 2018. The main platform for the work of researchers at Far Eastern Federal University is the Nanotechnology Research and Education Center of the School of Engineering.