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Environmental Risk Analysis

With the progress of science and technology, various substances, such as artificial chemical substances, heavy metals and radioactive materials, have been spread globally and now contaminate the environment. Many of these substances are harmful to the ecosystem and humans; the existence of such substances in the environment can be thought as a risk to human health and survival (environmental risk). Such noxious influences in various forms appear near us all. It is necessary that the mechanisms of the environmental risk and their extent be quickly evaluated to enable measures to be taken against the risks.

This laboratory collects data on various contaminants to analyze and evaluate the behavior of contaminants in the environment, and by using numerical simulation methods, the routes of transfer to humans and the mechanisms by which humans are harmed are studied

Additionally, the laboratory proposes methods to reduce environmental risks, and tries to explain how the global and the local environment should be controlled from an engineering standpoint.

Academic Staff

Minoru YONEDA

Minoru YONEDAProfessor (Graduate School of Engineering)

Research Topics

Minoru Yoneda works on clarification of dynamism and exposure-dosage assessments of medium-boiling-point organic chemical substances in general living environments to evaluate their risk for the public. He also aims to clarify the mechanisms of urban soil contamination with traces of harmful substances such as heavy metals, and to establish a method to decide optimum sampling points by using probability theory.

Contacts

Room 465 Bidg. C1-3, C cluster, Katsura Campus
TEL: +81-75-383-3355
FAX: +81-75-383-3358
E-mail: yoneda@risk.env.kyoto-u.ac.jp

Yoko SHIMADA

Yoko SHIMADAAssociate Professor (Graduate School of Engineering)

Research Topics

Our health is threatened by various types of environmental risks such as radioactive substances and hazardous materials. My goal is to understand how much our daily lives influence environment and what kind of measure is effective for mitigating such risks through modeling. In order to solve both global and local environmental problems, I provide information and help government's decision making process.

Contacts

Room 464 Bidg. C1-3, C cluster, Katsura Campus
TEL: +81-75-383-3357
FAX: +81-75-383-3358
E-mail: shimada@risk.env.kyoto-u.ac.jp

Ryota GOMI

Assistant Professor (Graduate School of Engineering)

Research Topics

Contacts

Research Topics

Evaluation of the differing effects of exposure to environmental pollutants and the probability of the expression of health-risk to constitutionally weak people

Health risks caused by trace environmental pollutants, such as radioactive materials and benzene, are thought to occur frequently when the conditions of the factors causing the environmental pollutants (the external conditions of the groups or individuals exposed to a particular form of exposure) overlap with the particular conditions of the person exposed (the idiosyncratic internal conditions, such as a chronic illness). By using a mathematical risk evaluation model, the influence on the probability of the expression of a health-risk to people from a change in the conditions of the person exposed is evaluated, and the mechanism of risk-expression in human groups is studied.

image1
Fig1. Distribution of chemical substances in the environment and human exposure

Development of a system to assess human health risks caused by trace environmental pollutants

The effect of environmental pollutants, such as carcinogenic substances and endocrine disrupting chemicals, on human health is a problem facing modern society. Until now health risk assessments of chemicals have largely depended on animal tests or epidemiological research. However, it will be necessary in the near future to carry out risk assessments about the substances that lack animal test data or epidemiological research. This study collects basic data needed for risk assessments using experimental methods including molecular and cellular biology, and physiology, and aims to construct a new risk-assessment system based on biological mechanisms.

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Fig2. In vivo metabolism of benzene

Clarification of the mechanisms of urban soil contamination, and the establishment of a method to decide sampling points

Harmful organic compounds or heavy metals from various sources have accumulated in the ground in many habitat area. This study clarifies the actual conditions and mechanisms of the urban soil contamination utilizing a variety of field surveys. The ways to choose sampling points to examine the contamination conditions are not necessarily always appropriate under the existing conditions. This study establishes a sampling strategy to enable the efficient and accurate collection of survey data by using optimization techniques such as genetic algorithms. Additionally, the study develops an original measuring device to trace the move of contaminants in soil in real time, and aims making its use practical.

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Fig3. How the distribution concentrations gets determined with an increase in the amount of information

Other themes

 Other research themes are as follows:

The evaluation of immunotoxicity caused by environmental pollutants

The study aims to find environmental agents causative of allergosis using biomarkers such as chemical mediators or lymphocyte transformation based on immunology. We try to collect the basic data needed for risk assessment.

Clarification of dynamisms and exposure-dosage assessment of medium-boiling-point organic chemical substances in habitat areas

Many of the chemical substances causing contamination in habitat areas are medium-boiling-point organic chemical compounds that have particular mechanisms for spreading and diffusion, such as vaporization, diffusion and deposition in the environment. This study tries to clarify the actual conditions of the contamination, the mechanisms of transform and migration, and the human exposure dosages of such contaminants in close living environments by experiments and field surveys.

The dynamic analysis of trace elements in general waste treatment systems

Various trace pollutants in household waste are collected, transported, treated and accumulated; changing their concentration and forms through these intermediate treatment processes and becoming potential sources of various environmental risks in general waste treatment systems. This study focuses on the general waste treatment systems of Kyoto City, and constructs a dynamic model of the quantity and quality (elements) of the waste in the city's systems to verify the adequacy compared with actual measurement data;, and clarifies the risk-reduction effect that recycling has through a life cycle assessment of waste.

Laboratory Website

http://risk.env.kyoto-u.ac.jp/