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UC Irvine to lead statewide program on green materials research


Development of nontoxic alternatives to commercial products is focus of interdisciplinary effort

Irvine, Calif., June 2008
UC Irvine has been awarded $1.62 million to lead a University of California program on development of nontoxic alternatives to everyday products, such as electronics, plastics, lighting products, fuels and pesticides.

UCI has been designated the Lead Campus for a Green Materials Program, which will foster research and graduate-level training at UC campuses. Oladele Ogunseitan, professor of public health and social ecology at UCI and international expert on environmental health sciences, will serve as inaugural director.

“There is a great need to develop new, nontoxic alternatives for the commercial products we regularly use,” said Ogunseitan, whose research seeks to mitigate environmental pollutants that contribute to human disease and ecosystem degradation. “This program will have great impact on the people of California, because it will draw upon our expertise in these areas and employ it for the health and benefit of society.”

The Green Materials Program at UCI will bring together public health, toxicology, materials science, engineering and social science experts to work on innovative approaches to reducing health and environmental hazards associated with materials use in society.

Priority topics to be tackled include:

Brominated flame retardants that have recently been detected in alarming levels in California peregrine falcons

Mercury content of energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps

Phthalate plasticizers, linked to liver damage and fertility problems, found in food containers and toys.

Researchers also will seek to coordinate activities with the state-funded California Environmental Contaminants Biomonitoring Program to quickly identify and respond to trends in the variety of chemicals detected in the population.

Participants will study California policies within the context of emerging international initiatives such as the European Union’s new REACH law (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances) for the purpose of advising the state’s executive and legislative branches on regulations that could emerge from the new Green Chemistry Initiative and other local environmental protection agency studies.

The green materials effort is part of the overall UC Toxic Substances Research and Teaching Program. Centered at UC Davis, the multicampus program supports research, graduate education, seed grants and fellowships in toxics-related fields. In addition to the Lead Campus Green Materials Program at UCI, it oversees Lead Campus programs in aerosols and health (UC Davis), mechanisms of toxicology (UCLA) and nanotoxicology (UCLA).


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