Oskar Karlsson and Jonathan Martin at the Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry (ACES) and SciLifelab were recently granted 5.6 million SEK for a project titled “Characterization of environmental pollution in Bangladesh by novel non-target mass spectrometry exposomic analysis”, in a call jointly funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR), Sida, Formas and Forte. The international research team also involves collaborators from Columbia University and ICDDR, B in Bangladesh.
Water pollution is a serious yet largely uncharacterized hazard for humans and wildlife in Bangladesh. Extensive agricultural use of fertilizers and pesticides, discharges of municipal and hospital wastes, and untreated wastewater from industries contaminate both surface and ground water sources. Bangladesh is situated on the world’s largest river delta and lies at the terminus of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna river systems, making the country and its vast fisheries particularly vulnerable to water pollution.
“The overall goal of our project is to screen, identify and determine levels of organic environmental contaminants in water, food and human blood using non-target mass spectrometry, and to initiate an epidemiological study to investigate associated health risks in Bangladesh”, says Oskar Karlsson.
The conditions for project support are, among other things, that the research is relevant for poverty reduction and sustainable development in low-income countries.
“We hope this work will lead to increased understanding of chemical contaminant exposures in representative Bangladeshi communities that depend on the rivers, thereby allowing for better targeted monitoring and new approaches to mitigate unsustainable pollution levels. By investigating links between chemicals in water, food and health, our work may contribute to enforcement or changes to existing environmental regulations. We also aim to communicate results in an effort to influence global and national industries to increase their sustainability commitments and minimize environmental pollution in Bangladesh and other developing countries”, says Jonathan Martin.
What does this grant mean for your research?
“The funding allows us to develop and test untargeted analytical methods to better characterize what chemicals that people and wildlife are exposed to in water, and subsequently to investigate links with health. The grant is intended to be the start of a longer-term commitment to increase understanding and awareness of chemical pollution in Bangladesh”, says Oskar Karlsson.
More information can be found at the Swedish Research Council.