News at Medicine - October 2020 - Two graduate learners win national and international awards

Two graduate learners win national and international awards
October 23, 2020
Arifur Rahman and Om Prakash Yadav recently received pretty prestigious awards for their research. Both graduate learners are supervised by Dr. Atanu Sarkar in the Division of Community Health and Humanities.
Arifur received first place in the student presentation contest at the LEADERS & PEOPLE 2020 Virtual Symposium, a national (virtual) symposium that was organized by Memorial and Queen's Universities for students from across the country.
A second-year PhD student, Arifur presented his research on micro plastics and human health risk. It’s an area that’s close to his heart.
“I worked with patients who had exposure to toxic environmental contaminants. In fact, I lost a close relative who had cancer due to environmental contaminant exposure,” explains Arifur, a PhD learner who has completed the clinical epidemiology program and the masters in public health program at the Faculty of Medicine.
He adds that micro plastic pollution, or plastic particles less than 5 mm in size, has exploded over the past few decades. They are typically used in industrial and domestic products, including clothing and soft furnishing, cosmetics, medicine and personal use products like facial cleansers, shower gels and scrubbers.
“Micro plastics are found in seawater, beaches, freshwater sources, inside fish and other living organisms in the sea, food products such as salt and honey, bottled water, and indoor and outdoor air, even in the Arctic and the Antarctic.”
“We looked into human exposure to micro plastics from different environmental sources and its potential risks on human health. As part of my work, I conducted a scoping review of the existing evidence on potential human exposure routes to micro plastics and potential human health risks due to that exposure.”
The theme of the symposium was Water Management in a Changing Climate and it took place virtually from Aug. 31 to Sept. 1, 2020. Arifur’s project was funded by the Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada.
Meanwhile, Om Prakash Yadav received a UNESCO Medal of Merit Certificate for his presentation at a virtual conference organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), under its UNITWIN network and UNESCO chairs
Held from Aug. 6-7, 2020, the event was hosted by BLDE University in India and the Life Sciences International Postgraduate Educational Centre. 
Om Prakash presented an e-poster on data mining of persistent organic pollutants from the NORMAN database system, the largest database on emerging contaminants worldwide.
Also funded by NSERC’s CREATE, Om Prakash’s focus was the analysis of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, used as flame retardants in plastics and foam products; per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, used to protect merchandise such as carpet and fabric, coating for paper and cardboard packaging, and fire-fighting foams; and bisphenol A, used in polycarbonate plastics and the protective lining of food cans.
“These chemicals can produce many adverse health effects in humans, including impaired development of the nervous system in children, increased risk of thyroid disease, decreased fertility in women, increased blood pressure, and cancer,” he explained. “Our study collected more than 80,000 data from various environmental matrices such as surface water, groundwater, sediments, sewage sludge, wastewater, and biota for spatial and temporal analysis of their concentration throughout Europe.”