[HY's Excellence] A Member of the Stockholm Convention on the POPs Review Committee, Protecting the Environment From Toxic Chemicals Delivered to the Next Generation
Professor Hyo-Bang Moon ( Department of Marine Science and Convergence Engineering)
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Hyo-Bang Moon, a professor in the Department of Marine Science and Convergence Engineering at Hanyang University, visited the Antartic after visiting the Arctic with the support of the Korea Polar Research Institute under the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. Why is he studying the polar environment when he needs to analyze harmful pollutants? The detection of contaminants in the polar region where human activity is limited indicates the possibility of long-range transport of pollutants which have traveled through the atmosphere and oceanic currents, suggesting the need for global regulation. Because these toxic substances can also be accumulated in wildlife and humans, demonstrating various toxicological effects, scientific management of these substances is essential. Starting from 2020, Professor Moon will discover new toxic substances from the poles and report them to the Stockholm Convention. The Stockholm Convention is one of the three international chemical conventions, which regulates the POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) that travel over long distances throughout the globe. POPs are toxic substances that accumulate in wildlife, disrupt the immune system, and damage the central nervous system of an organism. As a representative of the world, Professor Moon has taken the important responsibility of reporting and regulating the discovery of candidates (toxic substances) to the Stockholm Convention for the duration of 4 years.
Professor Moon has appeared on the SBS Environment’s In-Depth-Documentary over 10 years, such as The Poisonous Family and Body Burden. The documentary demonstrates to people how endocrine-disrupting chemicals invade the lives of wildlife and humans. He creates a report informing their discoveries of toxic substances and describe them scientifically so that they can be reflected in the national policy. The field that Professor Moon is studying, Marine Science and Convergence Engineering, is a converged study of marine science and coastal engineering. Marine Science and Convergence Engineering deals with the topic of development and conservation. 70 percent of the world's population lives along the coast and has been using and developing the ocean throughout history. More than 20% of the Korean population gains essential and nutritional proteins from marine products, yet at the same time, the sea is being contaminated as a result of human activities that are not only toxic to marine habitats but also contaminate marine products which are consumed by humans and lead to diseases. Therefore, research is being conducted on conservation technologies that can preserve a healthy marine ecosystem as well as sustainable technologies that allow the industries to manage toxic substances in advance so that humans can safely consume marine products. Environmental issues that arise in our oceans require an integrated field of study that is based on physics, chemistry, biology, and geology because issues related to the environment cannot be solved simply through only one field of study. For instance, in order to solve the problem of radiation in the sea, the scope of the problem must first be measured by the marine chemistry sector, then the extent of the transport can then be calculated by the marine physics sector. Next, its effects on living organisms can be studied by the marine biology sector, and, lastly, the marine geology sector can then study where the radiation has accumulated in the sea. As these several academic disciplines coalesce, integrating various fields of scientific study is imperative in solving environmental issues related to marine ecosystems.
While studying Atmospheric Science, Professor Moon discovered the issue of dioxin diffusion. He also studied coastal oceanography at the National Institute of Fisheries Science, becoming an expert in the field of oceanography in his late 20s. Professor Moon is now proposing the management of chemicals based on environmental fate of pollutants and its entire process into the human body while studying Environmental Analytical Chemistry and Environmental Toxicology at Hanyang University. In addition, he has many achievements in various fields of research. For example, he proposed a new standard for pollutants that cause harm when they are discharged from wastewater treatment plants, which was accepted by the Ministry of Environment, resulting in local governments upgrading their sewage treatment sites. Professor Moon also conducted research on the house dust problem, which resulted in the government controlling carcinogens included in plastic additives and in receipts which have the potential of causing harm even within our individual households. In conducting these important studies and reports, he used the term 'Whack-A-Mole Game.' When the use of bisphenol A (BPA) was restricted by the government, the industries then began to substitute with other analogues, such as BPS, BPF, BPB, and so forth. Due to this reason, Professor Moon is also promoting a movement to change the restriction paradigm by regulating an entire chemical group (as family), not just a single toxic substance.
As an environmental toxicologist, Professor Moon referenced a serious incident in the use of disinfectants in humidifiers that had occurred a few years back. This incident was, in fact, a disaster in which chemicals were developed to kill microbes, and that these chemicals were allowed by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy for use in a liquid form, but which resulted after use in the gas phase, which resulted in paralyzing the function of the lungs in the human body. This incident was a tragedy caused by the use of licensed chemicals that took a different form from their intended use. As a result of this incident, a paradigm occurred in South Korea, leading to stricter chemical registration assessment laws that restricted all use of chemicals that have not acquired safety data. By citing this incident, Professor Moon is striving to establish a system that requires companies to conduct lectures that allow suitable understanding of the lifecycle of toxic substances so that chemical producing companies can manufacture products with more sensitivity to the toxic nature of certain materials while also giving consumers the choice of selecting products with the proper safety information provided.
Professor Moon was also appointed as the associate editor of a renowned international academic journal, Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety for five years. He is so highly recognized for his authority as a researcher who protects the environment that he has become the face of a global-leading journal. He has written more than 200 papers so far and handles 1,000 international papers as the associate editor within a single year. Students who have been taught by Professor Moon have also been praised for their ability to be able to understand the bigger picture of the chemical management process in leading companies and laboratories. The light in Professor Moon’s office stays on until late every night, due to the time that needs to be invested in the endless education, research, and reviews of international papers.
Go! Hanyang WIKI : http://wiki.hanyang.ac.kr/Hyo-Bang_Moon
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