Scientific objectives and approach:
The aim of the project is to address the gap in continuous genotoxicity testing technology. The state of the art will be improved by providing a continuous system, which is cheap and robust. This will be achieved by developing a biosensor based on living yeasts. The yeasts have been engineered to produce a fluorescent signal in response to gene damage. Laboratory equipment to quantify this response has been designed and tested.
The method to be used is to initially assess the types of waste streams, which are most problematic to the participating SMEs. Then the genotoxicity sensor will be developed in parallel with the relevant treatment methods for the waste streams. A control system will also be developed to ensure that the treatment method is continuously reacting and thus treating the effluent stream.
Problems to be solved:
The key objective of the project is to provide a solution to the problem of continuous genotoxicity testing for effluent streams. At present genotoxicity testing is time consuming and thus highly expensive. This is a socio-economic issue because current methods are not cost effective for SMEs. We are concerned to resolve it because many SMEs in various industries have an increasing need to monitor the toxicity of their waste streams. If the problem is not resolved there will be considerable damage to our aquatic environment and with devastating effects on our biodiversity and wildlife.
There is no legislation at present requiring all industry to carry out genotoxicity testing, although the International Standards Organisation (ISO) has outlined the need for genotoxicity testing in ISO 10993-3: 'Tests for Genotoxicity, Carcinogenicity and Reproductive Toxicity'. In addition industrial consents are already required in Eire and other EU countries and genotoxicity testing may be required in the UK as a result of the Direct Toxicity Testing Programme. At present both the IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) and the pending Water Framework Directive have requirements to reduce/eliminate the discharge of substances proven to be mutagenic or carcinogenic. In the future, European legislation may well demand that all industry must carry out direct toxicity assessment on effluent discharges.
The benefits to be gained through the research and its subsequent exploitation include the protection of our environment from mutagenic waste streams. Potential users will have in their hands in a few years time a cheap, robust and reliable system for the continuous monitoring of a genotoxic waste stream and also potentially a technique to treat the stream. Other deliverables include a pilot scale plant developed for the treatment of genotoxic waste as well as market, technical and exploitation reports.
Funding SchemeCRS - Cooperative research contracts
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