TU Dublin researchers awarded EPA funding to explore the effects of Blue light phototoxicity on human health and biodiversity

Published: 15 Feb, 2024

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new funding for TU Dublin researchers to investigate the effects of blue light phototoxicity on human health and biodiversity in Ireland.

Announcing the awards, Laura Burke, EPA Director General, said:

"Scientific research and innovation are playing an increasingly important role in informing how governments and society can respond to the challenges posed by climate change and environmental degradation. The projects announced today will address knowledge gaps, both current and future, to provide robust evidence to support the implementation of effective environmental policies in Ireland.

This EPA funding will also help to build transdisciplinary research capacity and talent in Ireland in key areas relating to sustainability transitions and societal transformations. These specialist skills and expertise are essential to enable Ireland to effectively leverage the full range of environmental, economic and societal opportunities offered by the green transition. I congratulate the successful research teams and look forward to seeing the project outputs making a positive contribution to environmental protection in the years ahead."

The BLU-RAY project aims to establish baseline data about blue light phototoxicity, focusing on the impact of LED (Light-Emitting Diode) indoors, particularly on children and young adults. The team will also explore the effects of LEDs outdoors, examining light pollution and blue light interaction with pollutants. The research will explore the potential toxicity of long-term cumulative exposure to blue light phototoxicity, the effects of which are currently unknown in Ireland and have recently been raised as a significant concern by the European Environment Agency (EEA). 

Commenting on behalf of the TU Dublin team, Blu-Ray Co-Principal Investigator and Project Coordinator Dr George Amarandei said, "Using a multidisciplinary approach with collaboration in physics, optometry, psychology, engineering, and environmental sciences, BLU-Ray pioneers a transdisciplinary approach. The project strives to deliver impactful research, inform new Irish regulations aligned with European Environment Agency criteria, and support the Healthy Ireland: A Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013–2025 strategy. Incorporating citizen science, the project disseminates open knowledge and actionable insights to educational, professional, and governmental stakeholders."

The BLU-Ray TU Dublin team members are Dr George Amarandei, Dr Siofra Harrington, Dr Grainne Scanlon, Dr Paul Hynds and Ms Lindsay Dowling. 

The co-PIs for the project are Dr Jean O'Dwyer from University College Cork and Dr Shane Regan from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht. 

Read the full EPA announcement here.