Nav: Home

Scientists to create new 'chemical noses' to rid the environment of industrial pollutants

February 06, 2019

Scientists from five European countries have joined forces to develop next-generation 'chemical noses' to remove industrial pollutants from the environment. The European Commission allocated 2.9 million euros to finance the Horizon2020 FET-OPEN project INITIO that will bring together researchers from TalTech and five other universities as well as experts from an Interspectrum OÜ operating in Estonia and an Italian company in an international research project.

The supramolecular chemistry research group of the School of Science of Tallinn University of Technology has, for five years, been engaged in building new-generation receptor-molecules that would detect and send signals on pesticides and other industrial pollutants hazardous to the environment. Such smart 'electronic-nose-devices' would allow harmful toxins to be removed before their release into the environment.

The head of the supramolecular chemistry research group, Professor Riina Aav says, "Dealing with pollutants in the environment is becoming an ever-increasing problem. One relatively unknown reason for this is that many agricultural pesticides and pharmaceutical drugs that enter the environment are 'chiral', which means they exist in two non-superimposable forms (like left and right hands). This molecular quirk makes it difficult for the pollution control technologies to identify and remove many of these pollutants and this cannot be achieved by traditional methods for analysis."

'Chirality' of substances also has an impact on the environment whereto they are released. For example, one of their forms may be more toxic than the other and the chirality of the molecules may directly affect their environmental degradation. Chiral pollutants are found in pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, freon substitutes, dyes, antibiotics and many other drugs. In most cases we have no idea about their environmental impact.

The collaborating INITIO consortium will address this major issue by first engineering molecules that act as receptors - that recognize specific pollutants - and then integrate them with smart nanostructures to create devices that can be deployed directly in the field to detect and destroy the pollutants. These devices will essentially function as 'chemical noses' by sniffing out the specific industrial pollutants, thus facilitating their removal and destruction.

Our research group will build the receptor-molecules for these chemical noses. We will make container molecules, the 'hemicucurbiturils', which were recently developed in the project funded by Estonian Research Council. Our researchers will also build chiral molecular systems with recognition and signaling functions to flag the presence of specific pollutants, e.g. through changing colour," Professor Aav says.

The collaborative project will end in 2021 and the ultimate goal of the project is to develop a much more effective technology for cleaning the environment.
-end-
Additional information: Riina Aav, Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, riina.aav@taltech.ee

Estonian Research Council

Related Pesticides Articles:

Pesticides deliver a one-two punch to honey bees
A new paper in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry reveals that adjuvants, chemicals commonly added to pesticides, amplify toxicity affecting mortality rates, flight intensity, colony intensity, and pupae development in honey bees.
FEFU scientist reported on concentration of pesticides in marine organisms
According to ecotoxicologist from Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU), from the 90s and during 2000s in the tissues of Russian Far Eastern mussels the concentration of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) that had been globally used in agriculture in the mid-twentieth century has increased about ten times.
Hypertension found in children exposed to flower pesticides
Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine found higher blood pressure and pesticide exposures in children associated with a heightened pesticide spraying period around the Mother's Day flower harvest.
Banned pesticides in Europe's rivers
Tests of Europe's rivers and canals have revealed more than 100 pesticides -- including 24 that are not licensed for use in the EU.
The persistence of pesticides threatens European soils
A study developed by researchers from the Diverfarming project finds pesticide residues in the soils of eleven European countries in six different cropping systems
More Pesticides News and Pesticides Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...