Oct 24, 2016 - Science and innovations

Thousands of collected samples, new data, and disappointing findings of the researchers: such was the result of the first phase of the project to study the impact of particulate matter of car emissions on the environment that was completed in Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU). The large-scale study is being carried out in FEFU with the support of the Russian Science Foundation under the supervision of Aristides Tsatsakis (Greece), President of the Association of European Toxicologists (EUROTOX).

According to Aristides Tsatsakis, for the first year of the implementation of the project they have managed to create an international network of researchers for obtaining and comparing data in several major cities in Russia, Italy, Portugal, Greece, and Romania. Several thousand samples of particulate matter emissions have been collected, which contain toxic substances, soot, various metals, rare earth elements, including those in the form of nanoparticles. In the laboratory, researchers have carefully studied their composition, properties, and reactions of cells and animals on these substances.

From the Russian side the project is overseen by Kirill Golokhvast, Deputy Director of the School of Natural Sciences, Head of the Nanotechnology Research and Education Center (REC), FEFU School of Engineering. According to him, even after the initial research the participants have come to the conclusion that the new cars are no less dangerous for the environment than the obsolete models with the high mileage and the engine wear and tear. Experiments on rats have confirmed one more grim speculation that carbon nanofibers, which are contained in exhaust in large quantities, do reduce behavioral functions and cognitive activity.

"Of course, the researchers also previously assumed that car exhausts negatively affect the environment and health, but we need strong scientific justification for making radical decisions in the sphere of regulating pollution standards. We are the first who conduct such comprehensive study," explains Aristides Tsatsakis. "Only by examining the problem from different angles and by documenting these results, EUROTOX can approach European public authorities with the proposal to adjust the legislation. Perhaps, our data will form the basis of the new Euro 7 emission standard."

The large-scale study is designed for three years. In the second phase, the researchers will examine more closely the mechanisms of the toxic impact of nanoparticles on cultures of different types of living cells and animals. The project participants also intend to expand the problem area of research and to collect samples from motorcycles. Kirill Golokhvast points out that this is particularly relevant for the Asian cities, where motorcycles are the predominant form of transport. It is scheduled to proceed to the study of human immune responses in the third phase.