Cohort 3 research Chris Miles reports on his recent conference experience.

On the 7th of May, until the 10th May, I attended the 8th annual symposium on flame retardants in York, at the Principal York Hotel. The Principal York is an excellent example of the late-Victorian architecture prevalent in the city, whilst blending the inside with modern stylings. The programme for the week included 4 plenary speeches, given by four leading researchers from the flame retardant world, along with a huge number of smaller speeches and posters to view, giving ample opportunity to hear about something that piques your interest.

After an opening address from the Lord Mayor of York, the first day began, with a plenary and a session on flame retardants in abiotic environments. This section focused heavily on water environments, and the rising problems of pollution with enlightening talks. After a lunch, consisting of gourmet burgers and a lot of salmon, it was back to the conference room for two more sessions. These were the two sessions that would have the most relation to my current project, analytical methods of detecting flame retardants, and organophosphorus flame retardants. Whilst the organophosphorus flame retardants most commonly seen in these speeches were not the same as the ones I shall be using, the talks were of great interest to me.

Day two saw the focus switch to flame retardants in foods, indoors and in biota. Whilst not as relevant as the first day, it was of great interest to see how the substances closely related to those of which I am studying impacted the wider world and environment. Examples are the concentrations that build up in falcon eggs and the potential relationship between child growth and certain flame retardant types. Once again, the lunch provided was extravagant, including crab and lobster rolls this time!

The final day focused upon rules and regulations of the flame retardant world, and whether they were appropriate or not, as well as discussing some common, and some not so common methods humans are exposed to flame retardants. A more legislative day, focusing less on practical science and more on real world examples and laws. Finally the conference ended in the afternoon, with the announcement of the location of the next one, Canada! Overall the conference definitely broadened my knowledge of the flame retardant community, and allowed myself to gain experience interacting with some of the more respected members of the community.

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