Environmental and Human Health


Environmental hazards can present themselves to us in various media e.g. air, water, solids. The influence they can exert on our health is very complex and may be modulated by different factors. At NERI, we focus on the understanding of the potential effects of diet, air and water pollutants, food contaminants, and compounds of emerging concern on human health. NERI has an active research team that uses both in vitro and in vivo models to identify disease biomarkers and investigate the potential human health impacts upon exposure to environmental hazards.



Evaluation of Potential Health Effects of Selected Emerging Water Contaminants

This research gives emphasis on the study of how each chemical pollutant in wastewater effluent (e.g. corticosteroids such as dexamethasone, prednisolone and triamcinolone) would affect health through the use of model organisms such as zebrafish embryos/larvae. The analysis of the transcriptome of fish under different chemical insult conditions allows researchers to analyse the molecular mechanism of toxicity of each pollutant, which is valuable for the risk assessment of each pollutant relevant to human health.


Determination of Biomarkers for Diet and Disease

This research is focused on the identification of biomarkers isolated from test subjects, be they protein, polypeptides, lipids, hormones, metabolic intermediates, or nucleic acids. Large scale ‘omics’ research done at NERI could help to uncover the potential pathways and interactions influencing the pathogenesis and development of these complex diseases.


Potential Impacts of Nano-sized Titanium Dioxide and Silver Nanoparticles on Environment and Health

The rapid development of nanotechnology worldwide has resulted in increased generation of products containing engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). The massive generation of ENMs increases the likelihood of their release into the environment. Knowledge of how ENMs interact and whether they are harmful to the environment as well as human health is relatively limited. Through the use of both in vitro and in vivo models, the team investigates the potential health impacts of exposure to engineering nanomaterials such as gold nanoparticles.


Metabolomics, Ecotoxicity and Bio-imaging Studies of Effects of Emerging Pollutants in Water on Aquatic Plants and Animals

Daphnia magna, commonly known as freshwater water flea, is widely used as an aquatic test species for ecotoxicity testing. The effects of water pollutants on Daphnia magna are studied through physical approach by evaluating mortality, immobility, growth and reproduction dysfunction and appearance abnormality such as deformation and disability. The team also adopts the metabolomics approach to predict toxicants present in water. Using the state-of-art technology such as liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, we can determine the metabolic responses of D. magma to different concentrations and types of pollutants


Detection of Food Contaminants for Safety Assessment

Safety assessment of potential food contaminants involves complex chemical and biochemical assays. These assays are pivotal in revealing the possible toxic and carcinogenic reproductive systems. At NERI, we are well-equipped for food analysis capable of identifying chemical food contaminants with high sensitive and accuracy.


Potential Health Impacts of PM2.5 and Other Nanoparticles

Expertise is available on the analysis of atmospheric particulate matter and fine particulates (PM2.5) that can have adverse impacts on human health. Emphasis is placed on performing in vitro studies coupled with metabolomics and transcriptomic analyses on cell lines exposed to air pollutants. These studies can reveal mechanisms of toxicity as well as dose-response relationships. Such information would be useful for establishing control guidelines and for exposure prevention.