Past Projects

Nano(eco)toxicology and beyond (ToxBe), 2014-2019.

Institutional Research Funding, IUT23-5

Leader: Dr. A. Kahru

Rapidly developing nanotechnologies offer the mankind countless benefits on the background of limited information on the respective environmental and health risks. ToxBe aims evaluating the existing and obtaining new scientific knowledge on chemical and nanoparticle (NP) safety. For that, we will first critically analyze the existing literature on environmental hazards of NPs, e.g., identify potential descriptors for QSAR models. Targeted (eco)toxicological testing will be used (i) to fill the data gaps on environmental hazard of NPs and (ii) to generate homogenous training sets for QSARs. Further, the toxicological pathways of hazardous NPs – solubilization, induction of reactive oxygen species, interference with biomembranes and -molecules will be identified by refining the existing and designing new cost-effective bioassays. To increase the environmental relevance, environmentally more relevant species, test conditions and simplified laboratory food chains will be used.

Network on technology-critical elements – from environmental processes to human health threats (NOTICE), 2015-2019.


MC member: Dr. A. Kahru, MC substitute: Dr. I. Blinova

More information from the homepage of the project and from COST.

In vitro toxicological tool-box for targeted design of antimicrobial nanomaterials, 2015-2018.

Personal Research Funding, PUT748

Leader: Dr. A. Ivask

Nanosized (1-100nm) materials have big expectations in almost every industrial domain. Currently one of the most important areas is development of novel nanoantimicrobials. From nanotechnological consumer products currently on the market about 30% are designed to avoid spreading of unwanted microbes. These products involve novel nanomaterials for surface treatments, incorporation into various textiles as well as creating new biocidal preparations to desinfect the skin. The main goal of the current project is the development of a biological tool-box – a suite of in vitro methods using various bacteria and mammalian cells – for ’safe-by-design’ approach in developing highly efficient nano-antimicrobial materials with minimum unwanted side-effects to humans. The main emphasis will be given to design and testing of silver, copper, titanium dioxide and zinc nanoparticles that could be later used in surface coatings, antibacterial matrices e.g., textiles, and potentially, skin disinfectants.

Project on Estonian ambient air pollutants to review the current limit values of non-prioritized but hazardous air pollutants, 2016-2017.

Ordered by Ministry of the Environment, financed by Environmental Investment Centre

Leader: Dr. M. Sihtmäe

The transfer of engineered nanomaterials from wastewater treatment & stormwater to rivers (ENTER), 2013-2017.


MC members: Dr. I. Blinova and Dr. K. Kasemets, MC substitute: Dr. A. Kahru

More information from the homepage of the project and from COST.

Adverse effects of nanosized Ag, Au and CuO to particle-ingesting crustaceans: an integrated approach, 2012-2017.

ETF grant No. 9347

Leader: Dr. M. Heinlaan

Environmental impacts of multiwall carbon nanotubes as studied in a microbial food chain, 2014-2016.

Post-Doctoral Research Funding, PUTJD16

Leader: Dr. M. Mortimer

Modelling Nanomaterial Toxicity (MODENA), 2012-2016.


MC member: Dr. A. Kahru, MC substitutes: Dr. M. Heinlaan and Dr. V. Aruoja

More information from the homepage of the project and from COST.

EC FP7 project MODERN (MODeling the EnviRonmental and human health effects of Nanomaterials) 2013-2015.

Call: FP7-NMP-2012-SMALL-6; NMP.2012.1.3-2: Modeling toxicity behavior of engineered nanoparticles

Collarborative project with 7 partners. Coordinator: Dr. Francesc Giralt (URV, Spain). NICPB PI: Dr. A. Kahru


FP7 lipp ja logo

The main goal of MODERN is to establish new modeling approaches suitable for relating nanotoxicity with the intrinsic molecular and physicochemical properties of eNPs at environmental exposure levels and to implement safe-by-design nanoparticle design strategies. This implies three specific objectives: (i) To apply computational models for the characterization of the structural and physicochemical properties leading to QNPRs and safe-by-design strategies for eNPs; (ii) to develop in silico models (QNAR) of biological activity of eNPs in the body and in the environment; and (iii) to establish a categorization and hazard ranking protocol for eNPs based on structural similarity principles and in the analysis of their toxicological profiles.

EC FP7 project NANOVALID (Development of reference methods for hazard identification, risk assessment and LCA of engineered nanomaterials, 2011-2015.

Call: NMP.2010.1.3-1; Reference methods for managing the risk of engineered nanoparticles (grant agreement No 263147).

FP7 Large-scale integrating Collaborative Project with 35 partners. Coordinator: Dr. Rudolf Reuther (NordMiljö, Sweden). NICPB PI: Dr. A. Kahru

NanoValid_logo200FP7 lipp ja logo

The growing development, production and use of engineered nanomaterials and associated products will increase exposure of both humans and ecosystems to these new materials.However, current knowledge is still incomplete and established test methods are as yet inappropriate to reliably assess the extent of exposure and risk of materials at the nanoscale. There is an urgent need to develop methods to overcome the current limitations of existing hazard and risk assessment schemes and to generate the body of reference data needed as the basis for regulative requirements and for measures to safeguard production, application and disposal of nanomaterials. The proposed project will mobilize the critical mass of international scientific knowledge and technical expertise required to address these questions. Current analytical and toxicity test methods and models will be put to test and subjected to rigorous intercalibration and validation. Where necessary, methods and test materials will be modified, adapted and validated, and new reliable reference methods developed, in cooperation with international standardization bodies and the concerned industry, to support both pre- and co-normative activities and to make the applicability of existing RA and LCA schemes to ENPs more reliable. The feasibility of validated measurement, characterization and test methods will be assessed by selected case studies to help the significant improvement of the performance of existing exposure monitoring systems as well as the development of new risk management and reduction strategies.

Metal-based nanoparticles toxicity assessment in vitro: Saccharomyces cerevisiae model, 2012-2015.

ETF grant No. 9001

Leader: Dr. K. Kasemets

Effect of pharmaceuticals and engineered nanoparticles on the wastewater treatment and antibiotic resistance gene transfer in the environment, 2012-2015

Leader: Dr. K. Kasemets

The aim of the project is to investigate how the antibiotic residues and nanoparticles (NPs) may act separately or in tandem on the wastewater treatment effectiveness and microbial community as well as on the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the wastewater treatment system. Additionally, the impact of wastewater composition on the physical-chemical properties of NPs (e.g. size, ζ-potential) will be assessed and the dissolved fraction of the metal ions will be quantified by the recombinant metal-specific bacteria.

Design and application of novel levansucrase catalysts for the production of functional food ingredients, 2012-2015.

Supporting the development of R&D of biotechnology

Leader: Dr. A. Ivask

Smart aerogels based on the nanostructured wood Cellulose – SmaCell, 2012-2015.

National R&D program „Materials technology“.

Ciliates as model systems to study genome evolution, mechanisms of non-Mendelian inheritance, and their roles in environmental adaptation, 2011-2015.


MC members: Dr. M. Mortimer and Dr. A. Ivask, MC substitute: K. Juganson

More information from the homepage of the project and from COST.

Science-based forecast and quantification of risks to properly and timely react to hazards impacting Estonian mainland, air space, water bodies and coasts, 2012-2014.

“Environmental protection and technology R&D programme (KESTA)” of the measure “Supporting environmental technology research and development activities”

Leader: Dr. A. Kahru

Reduction of CO2 emission of CFB boiler by enrichment of combustion air with oxygen, 2012-2014.

National R&D program „Energy“.

Leader: Dr. K. Kasemets

Interactions of engineered nanoparticles with biological systems: interplay of structure, chemistry and biology, 2011-2014.

ETF grant No. 8561

Leader: Dr. A. Kahru

Risk Management and Remediation of Chemical Accidents (RIMA) – EU Interreg IV A programme, 2011-2013.

European Union and European Regional Development Fund grant; Budget according to contract – 257,897 eur (ERDF funding 219,212 eur)

Finnish-Estonian project, 3 partners. Coordinator: S. Kauppi. NICPB PI: Dr. I. Blinova

Logod RIMA jaoks

The main objective is to improve prevention to chemical transportation accidents in Southern Finland and Estonia where the importance of transportation is emphasized because the joint border with Russia. Increasing information about transported chemicals enhance the protection of soil, surface waters and groundwater. The aim is by risk assessment to help local authorities to predict environmental fate and effects of chemicals in various accident situations and pay their attention to the most hazardous chemicals. The main academic tasks of NICPB are: collecting data on transported chemicals, on the history of transport accidents in Estonia; collection of data on (eco)toxicity and environmental fate of chemicals from literature and the existing databases; laboratory toxicity testing of selected chemicals, communication and networking with target groups in Estonia and organizing meetings in Tallinn.

Mechanisms and interactions in toxicology and toxinology: in vitro models, 2008-2013.

NICPB Target Financed Project SF0690063s08

Leader: Dr. A. Kahru

The project will seek for new scientific knowledge on toxic effects and mechanisms of action of REACH-relevant industrial chemicals, synthetic nanoparticles and natural toxins of snake venoms. Applying 3Rs approach (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement), simple prokaryotic and eukaryotic model organisms will be used with special attention on cellular molecular targets, molecular interactions and integrated organism-level responses. New worked out testing strategies will be useful for hazard evaluation of nanoparticles but also for implementation of EC new chemical policy REACH. This mechanism-oriented research provides knowledge and tools for targeted design of drugs, antidotes and new antioxidants.

Bioavailability of contaminants in Estonian lakes and rivers, 2009-2012.

ETF grant No. 8066

Leader: Dr. I. Blinova

In vitro toxicity of metal oxide nanoparticles: eukaryotic models, 2008-2011.

ETF grant No. 7686.

Leader: Dr. K. Kasemets

EC FP6 project OSIRIS (Optimized Strategies for Risk assessment of industrial chemicals through integration of non-test and test information), 2007-2011.

FP6-2005-GLOBAL-4 (OJ 2005 C 177/15), Proposal N° 037017-2

Integrated project with 31 partners. Coordinator: Prof. G. Schüürmann (UFZ, Berlin). NICPB PI: Dr. A. Kahru

Goal: to develop integrated test strategies fit for REACH that make it possible to significantly increase the use of non-testing information for regulatory decision making, and to effectively reduce animal testing to the level needed from a risk perspective.

Kinetics and efficiency of biogas production from Estonian wastes and crops, 2009-2010.

Ecotoxicological studies within the framework of contract between AS Eesti Energia and Estonian University of Life Sciences

Leader: H.C. Dubourguier

Environmental impact of oil shale combustion ashes on topsoils in Narva Powerplants region: combined geochemical and ecotoxicological approach, 2008-2010.

EMP 45 grant

Joint project between Tallinn University of Technology and NICPB. Leaders: Dr. L. Bitjukova (TUT) and Dr. A. Kahru (NICPB).

Mechanism-based study of toxicity: recombinant microbial models, 2007-2010.

ETF grant No. 6974

Leader: Dr. A. Ivask

Bioavailability and (eco)toxicity of metal oxide nanoparticles: effects and mechanisms, 2007-2010.

ETF grant No. 6956

Leader: Dr. A. Kahru

Bioavailability of key environmental pollutants in different environmental matrices: from quantification to mechanism, 2007-2009.

Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation Grant

Leader: Dr. A. Ivask

Collections of specimen of natural sciences in cellular biology and toxicological research, 2004-2008.

National Programme: Collections for the Humanities and Natural Sciences, project HLK04-4

Leader: Dr. A. Kahru.

Evaluation of biological effects of nanoparticles, 2006-2007.

NICPB Basic Funding Project

Leader: Dr. A. Kahru

Goal: to study the biological effects of nanoparticles (e.g., nanosized metal oxides TiO2, ZnO, CuO) on in vitro models (recombinant microorganisms, non-vertebrate animals, human and animal cell cultures)Main tasks:- to evaluate hazardous effects on different level of biological organisation/complexity and transfer via food-web; – to elucidate the mechanisms of toxic action

Investigation of the influence of different diffuse pollution sources on the nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from watersheds in Estonia, 2005-2007.

ETF grant No. 6199

NICPB PI: Dr. I. Blinova

Toxicological risk assessment in vitro, 2003-2007.

Target Financed Project 0222601Bs03

Leader: Dr. A. Kahru

Combined risk assessment of agricultural soils polluted by industrial activities, 2000 -2007.

Cooperation with Dr. F. Douay and Prof. H.C. Dubourguier, ISA Institut Supérieur d’Agriculture, Lille, France

Bioavailability of toxic heavy metals: recombinant luminescent biosensors and environmental reality, 2005-2006.

Mobility grant for coperation between Estonia and France (a Parrot framework)

Leaders: A. Kahru (NICPB) and H.-C. Dubourguier (ISA, France)

BioSpinno 2 project, 2004-2006.

Funded by Enterprise Estonia (via EU structural funding).

The project involves sub-tasks on dissemination of ecotoxicological knowledge to Estonian industries and environmental authorities, elaboration of international networking. The organizing of ETS-SSCT 2005 Meeting “Chemicals, human, environment” was one of the involved activities.

Bioavailability, toxicity and mobility of main industrial and urban pollutants in soil, sediments and solid wastes, 2003-2006.

ETF grant No. 5551

Leader: Dr. A. Kahru

Risk based environmental site assessment of the oil-shale industry in Estonia, 2002-2003.

Funded by Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the Integration Program for EU Candidate Count

Coordinator: Dr. J.-E. Sørlie, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI), Norra. NICPB PI: Dr. A. Kahru

Evaluation of composting and fungal treatment technology for remediation of PAH contaminated soil, 2002-2003.

NATO Collaborate Linkage Grant EST CLG No 978297

Coordinator: Dr. Trine Eggen, Norway

Analysis of bioavailable heavy metals and organic compounds in the Baltic Sea by using sensor bacteria, 2001-2003.

Maj ja Tor Nessling Fondi Grant

Coordinator: Dr. M. Virta, University of Turku.

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