Metal Oxy-Sulfide and Oxide Nanomaterials: Photodegradation of Chemical Pollutants

Posted: 9 May, 2024

MSCA DOROTHY Fellow Dr. Misganaw Zeleke shares his project on photodegradation of chemical pollutants.

Human and animal health rely on each other and the environment. The effects on the environment, whether good or bad, directly affect organisms at all levels, including humans. Hence, various fields in human health, animal health, and the environment need to collaborate and cooperate to improve public health sustainability. Nowadays, pharmaceuticals of antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, endocrine-disrupting compounds, and many others are being released into the environment continuously across the globe without proper treatment. Gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, strokes, heart attacks, reproductive disorders, feminization in both human and aquatic organisms are related to pharmaceutical waste products in the environment. They are also the main causes of an increasing level of antibiotic resistance, which is a global challenge. The World Health Organization estimated that antibiotic resistance directly caused 1.27 million deaths in 2019, and it is projected to cause 10 million deaths by 2050 if no measurable interventions have been undertaken. Meanwhile, industrial toxins of heavy metals and organic compounds have severe public health effects including organ damage, weakened immunity, allergies, birth defects, impaired child development, and cancer. Hence, implementation of a comprehensive, collaborative, and One Health strategy is compulsory to counteract the health effects of these chemical contaminants.

Various techniques of filtration, semipermeable reverse osmosis, sedimentation, flocculation, precipitation, and adsorption are utilized for removing chemical pollutants in contaminated water systems. Nevertheless, none of these approaches are successful in transforming the waste and toxic chemicals into benign forms. The techniques are utilized to shift the contaminants from one designated location to another. Therefore, Photocatalysis Technology offers a different method of transforming these chemicals into simple finished products. It is a green and environmentally friendly approach, where light energy of either visible or ultraviolet form is combined with semiconductor nanomaterials to generate excited electrons and reactive radicals for the reduction of toxic heavy metal cations and degradation of organic compounds including pharmaceuticals.

Workshop photo

The Department of Chemical Sciences (CS), University of Limerick has invited Dr. Misganaw Alemu Zeleke, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) DOROTHY-fellow, to present the concept and application of his project work on 9th April 2024 in the CS seminar series. The presented paper was entitled “Metal Oxy-Sulfide and Oxide Nanomaterials: Photodegradation of Chemical Pollutants.” The attendees were provided with clear and easily understandable talks on the basic performance and characterization results of his research works, ensuring even non-experts could grasp the general concept and applications.

Being the sole active researcher at the University of Limerick working on photodegradation and reduction of chemical pollutants, this presentation gave Misganaw the opportunity to promote the use of light energy and nanomaterials together or nanomaterials under dark conditions as a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative for detoxifying chemical pollutants. The presentation was a somewhat warm discussion, where the participants asked fundamental questions. They were extremely interested in understanding how the combination of light energy and nanomaterials and some nanomaterials without light energy can break down chemical pollutants into harmless forms. He found the session to be quite engaging, as the intended objective was achieved. Misganaw plans to present his research work at the EAI ICAST 2024-12th EAI International Conference on Advancements of Science and Technology in November 2024, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

For further information on this project visit:

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