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Project: Technology-critical elements; soil-crop transfer, oral bioaccessibility and toxicity

This project addresses a group of "new" metals, for which there is currently a dramatic increase in use and demand, but for which the knowledge about environmental behaviour and potential risks to humans is still strongly limited.

Facts about the project

Project manager
Anna Augustsson
Other project members
Mats Åström (Linnaeus University), Rupert Hough (James Hutton Institute), Joanna Wragg (British Geological Survey), Johan Lundqvist (SLU), Emma Engström & Ilia Rodushkin (ALS Scandinavia),
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University, James Hutton Institute, British Geological Survey, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), ALS Scandinavia
Swedish Research Council
Ongoing. 2022 - 2026
Environmental Science (Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)

More about the project

This project addresses a group of metals, the so called “technology-critical elements” (TCEs), for which there is currently a dramatic increase in use and demand. Increasing emissions to natural systems are thus to expect, but much is still unknown about the environmental behavior and toxicity of most TCEs.

This project intends to increase our understanding of the potential risks that TCE contaminants in soils and crops mat pose to humans, today and in the future.

First, we will study the TCE uptake by crops from agricultural soils in both urban and rural environments, and its link to soil geochemistry. Hereby we produce knowledge about the potential for food chain contamination.

Second, to gain knowledge about the uptake after oral exposure, we study the oral bioaccessibility, or the uptake in the gastrointestinal tract. The bioaccessibility is assessed both for crops (to address the uptake after food consumption), and for soil and airborne dust (since inadvertent ingestion of fine soil and dust particles may also contribute significantly to the total human exposure).

Third, to contribute to the understanding of hazardous responses that may occur in humans, we will use a panel of cell-based in vitro assays. These are based on cultured mammalian cells that have been modified as to produce certain reporter proteins when exposed to compounds that activate certain responses, eg endocrine disruption, xenobiotic metabolism, reactive toxicity, oxidative stress or genotoxicity.