Do certain pollutants cause or contribute to the onset of diabetes? That’s what researchers in Prof. Jenny Bruin’s lab are trying to determine. Bruin, herself, thinks there is a link.

Kyle Van Allen – Flame Retardants

One of her PhD students, Kyle Van Allen, is focusing his research on a class of chemicals called Flame Retardants which reduce the risk of ignition and slow the spread of fire. These chemicals are added to many things we interact with day-to-day such as fabrics and electronics, thus making it difficult to avoid them.

Van Allen points out that exposure to pollutants such as flame retardants has become a global issue because they resist degradation and their effects on people, in many cases, remain poorly understood.

He continues: “Dechlorane Plus is a flame retardant that has been found in house dust, hair, serum and the breast milk of Canadians and is still being assessed for its effects on human health.”

Van Allen goes on to explain that his projects focus on identifying chemicals that might have harmful effects in human beta cells and evaluating how exposure to these chemicals might influence the progression of diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes. “My research allows me to identify potentially harmful Flame Retardants that are currently in use and/or prevalent in Canada, and then evaluate the associations between the presence of these chemicals in human tissues with altered beta cell function.”

Ultimately, he is hopeful that his research may help influence health and regulatory policy for flame retardants.