On September the 30th The Life-MILCH project took part in the 2022 European Researchers’ Night at the University of Parma, one of the 20 Italian cities joining the European project LEAF, an acronym for “heaL thE plAnet’s Future”.
The Life-MILCH team of Parma presented an immersive experience called “Tana liberi tutti dai Distruttori Endocrini” (i.e., A “free for all all the time” from endocrine disrupting chemicals), in collaboration with the research group of the Behavioral Biology Lab (Dept. of Medicine) and the Animal Genomic Lab (Dept. of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability). The activity aimed at discovering the complex topics regarding Endocrine Disruptor that are found in a variety of products of daily use. The final goal was to encourage a variety of partecipants to recognize, choose and use alternative and safer materials releasing no or reduced levels of EDs. Purpose-built panels representing product shelves in a grocery store welcomed a wide audience of participants, which had the occasion to discover what hides behind and inside the label of most common supermarket products.
Visitors were led through a path designed to grow awareness and knowledge about Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs), where they have been found and how to avoid them. First, a series of illustrative posters introduced to the issue, also referring to the Life-MILCH project; thiese were followed by few informative short-movies intended to draw the attention to the effects of EDCs’ exposure on human and planet’s health. At the end, visitors became actively involved in the scene, applying what they had learned by pretending to do an ordinary grocery shopping.
Different shopping occasions or special events were randomly assigned to each participant, asking for example to “shop” for a family dinner or a birthday party. The one rule to follow was to choose up to five products with a “reduced content” of EDCs. Most of the items were displayed in different formats in order to offer the possibility to pick one choosing between plastic bags, paper boxes, glass bottles and so on.
Once arrived at the checkout, each item was evaluated and scored according to the estimated degree of exposure or level of EDCs. At the end, visitors were awarded with a certificate of attendance and a short guide for a more conscious EDC-free lifestyle. Moreover, the youngest shoppers (but not only them!) had the chance to become superheroes for the day by shooting a picture as Super-MILCH!
An exciting and successful day for everyone, that brought the attention of the general public on crucial topics such as pollutants and chemicals like Endocrine Disruptors in the environment, whose exposure is currently being investigated by the Life-MILCH project itself.