Applying advanced in-cell imaging and analysis methods to characterise particles linked to harmful health effects
Particulates have been linked to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths a year across the EU, contributing to respiratory problems and, perhaps, cardiovascular diseases, cancers and dementia. Currently, particulate matter (PM) is regulated by size concentrations labelled PM10 and PM2.5 (particles with diameter below 10 and 2.5 micrometres), but these metrics don’t consider chemical properties or, indeed, ultrafine particles. Other metrics may also be significant. New toxicology data is needed to establish causal links between particulate type and cell-level responses associated with damaging effects, which requires reference particulate aerosols, tailored to research needs.
The project will develop synthetic, tuneable, reference aerosols and novel test methods to evaluate cell-level effects, including applying machine learning for image-analysis; cell exposure methods that mimic particulate inhalation; and novel, more realistic lung models. The outcome will be PM metrics more closely aligned to health effects. The aim is to push the frontiers of cell optical analysis, improve air quality guidelines and encourage new measurement infrastructure.