TOPIC II "Aerosol Toxicology"

Long-term Exposure to Ambient Aerosol Concentrations

In vitro cell exposure at the air liquid interface (ALI) has been shown to be a versatile tool to describe the relative toxicity of emission sources, like cigarette smoke, engine emissions or engineered nanoparticles, and to unravel biological mechanisms underlying the adverse effects of air pollutants. Within the ZIM project ALIAS-LUNG, the concept of Vitrocell ALI-Exposure stations will be further developed for the toxicological characterization and surveillance of the ambient air.  This should enable to measure in polluted areas not only air pollutant parameters but also directly the cytotoxicity of the ambient air as an indicator of relative health risks.   

HICE - Aerosols and Health

Within HICE ( adverse health effects of combustion aerosols are analyzed that originate from ship diesel engines, gasoline engines and several wood combustion devices. The study on ship diesel emissions revealed that a change of fuel type is not sufficient to avoid adverse effects and it is important to develop and apply measures for the removal of soot particles from the ship emissions (Oeder et. al., PLoS one, 2015). By using realistic air-liquid interface cell exposure and multi-omics analysis mechanistic insight into the adverse effects of aerosols was gained.

Oeder, S. et al.: Particulate matter from both heavy fuel oil and diesel fuel shipping emissions show strong biological effects on human lung cells at realistic and comparable in vitro exposure conditions. PLoS ONE 10:e0126536 (2015).


Before air pollutants are inhaled they stay for a certain time in the atmosphere. During that time they react with other components of the air. This process is called atmospheric aging. As these reactions can change the toxicity of the pollutants it is of high relevance to take them into consideration when testing the toxicity of certain emissions. Therefore newHICE evaluates the toxicity of emissions from wood combustion and diesel engines after artificial atmospheric aging. Lung cell cultures are exposed at the air-liquid interface and their responses regarding cytotoxicity, genotoxicity and inflammatory effects are assessed accompanied by a comprehensive transcriptome and proteome analysis.

Toxicity of Carbon Concrete Composite (C3)

The usage of carbon fibers in concrete materials can help to construct more sustainable buildings. To ensure workers health these new materials are tested after thermal or mechanical processes that produce inhalable particles and fibers ( Investigations regarding genotoxicity and fibrotic changes are in the focus.

Allergenic Aerosol Exposure

A majority of allergies are hypersensitivities against aero-allergens (e.g. pollen allergens). Thus many allergies are aerosol-dependent diseases. Additionally, anthropogenic aerosols, like diesel car emissions, can increase allergic reactions in sensitized individuals. Therefore the interplay of anthropogenic and allergenic aerosol exposures is investigated by using newly developed in vitro pollen exposure systems.

Toxicity of Wind Mill Fibers

Recycling of wings from wind mills is a major challenge as they contain reinforcements with glass and/or carbon fibers. New recycling processes are under development. To ensure workers safety aerosols that can occur during these processes are tested especially regarding their fiber toxicity.