Measurements for mitigating adverse health effects from atmospheric particulate pollutants

Short Name: AeroTox, Project Number: 18HLT02
Image of Los Angeles covered in a layer of smog
Smog in Los Angeles

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 has developed 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.


Project website
mmSIM: An open toolbox for accessible structured illumination microscopy

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A

Other Participants
Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz (Switzerland)
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (United Kingdom)
King's College London (United Kingdom)
Lunds Universitet (Sweden)
Universitaet Bern (Switzerland)