Published on: 18 January 2016
How are chemicals in the water affecting the world?
Research aimed at discovering how chemical pollutants are distributed through the environment and are affecting the world is being carried out by scientists working with the international organisation Greenpeace, based within the University of Exeter.
The team of scientists based at University of Exeter’s Innovation Centre, and affiliated with the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, conduct research which shapes environmental policies across the world.
Working in high-tech labs, which have been based at the university since 1992, the researchers analyse environmental samples, collected from around the world. This environmental chemistry research seeks to find out how chemicals and pollutants are affecting the natural world.
We benefit from being in a university environment by having close proximity ro university staff
Dr David Santillo, Senior Greenpeace scientist
Dr David Santillo, a senior scientist with Greenpeace and an honorary research fellow in the College of Life and Environmental Science’s Biosciences department, explained “We are here as a separate group to carry out our research, but we’re also here as part of the broader pool of academic expertise. We contribute to lectures, we supervise projects and we make our equipment available to researchers in the university.
”By equal measures, we benefit from being in a university environment by having close proximity to university staff, and having access to the library facilities.”
As Greenpeace has expanded the range of environmental issues on which it works, the remit of the research team in Exeter has also expanded from a focus on water pollution in the UK and Europe in the 1990s to encompass a broader range of environmental changes internationally.
Dr Santillo explained: “Although we are based in the UK, most of the analytical work we do now relates to investigations of environmental pollution outside Europe.”
“We are now doing a lot of work for our offices in China, South East Asia, and Latin America where people might otherwise not have ready access to the kind of facilities we have in our lab.”
When working with Greenpeace offices around the world, the Exeter based team provide data about the environmental samples which have been collected, as well as providing training and equipment for staff collecting samples in the field, often at short notice and under difficult circumstances in response to natural disasters or industrial accidents.
The Greenpeace Research Laboratories, based at the University of Exeter’s Innovation Centre, forms the Science Unit of Greenpeace International.