Multidisciplinary Approaches to Airborne Pollutant Health Related Issues

Title of Programme
EC Environment and Health
Quality of Life and Managing of Living Resources
Financing Code for Project
QLK4 - CT - 2002 - 02357
Project start year - end year 2002 - 2005
Financing organisation
Coordinator Institut National de la Sante et de la Reserche Medicale (INSERM)
Other partners
Aerosol and Particle Technology Laboratory (APTL)
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH)
Universite de Lausanne (UNIL)
Centre d'Etudes et de Recherche en Aerothermie et Moteurs (CERTAM)
Centre International de Toxicologie (CIT)
Budget / APTL Budget 7,500,000 €  / 910,918 €
Scientific Manager / Project researcher A. G. Konstandopoulos / E. Papaioannou
Project website n/a
  • Assessment of the potential benefit of reformulated fuels and engine technologies on combustion engine emission safety in respect to health-related modelled endpoints;
  • To address the impact of particle size distribution and soluble organic fraction on the toxicity response profile;
  • To deliver biological in vitro and in vivo safety screening tools allowing to assess industrial engine exhaust depollution strategies based on the quantification of actual health benefits;
  • To provide inputs to policy makers for elaborating future “no regret” regulatory decisions based on actual scientific experimental data rather than on the use of the precautionary principle.
Key findings and conclusions
  • In vitro experimental models showed that with high sulphur fuel in the absence of oxidation catalysis, particulate matter was the main toxic component triggering DNA damage and systemic inflammation. At the opposite, with ultra-low sulphur fuel and lubricant, in the presence of strong diesel oxidation catalysis, the role of particulate matter was no more evidenced and the gas phase became the major component triggering strong oxidant stress highly correlated to emission NOconcentrations;
  • A selective particle sizer (SPS) was designed allowing continuously sampling combustion aerosols and delivering a flow of aerosol with selected particle sizes;
  • Cytokine reporter gene cell lines were exposed to combustion aerosols using bi-phasic air/liquid exposure design. Cytokine expression patterns were variable according to aerosol particle size downstream of the SPS;
  • There was no evidence of occurrence of mutation with two strains of Salmonella up to high emission concentrations of combustion aerosols while the system was responsive to benzylchloride vapours used as a positive control. These observations question the bioavailibility of combustion emitted airborne pollutants for exerting their known genotoxic potential;
  • The results from both in vitro and in vivo studies indicate that increased NO2 emissions raise a new health safety concern that should be addressed by regulatory authorities, since recent epidemiological studies point out to an important role of NO2 for triggering acute cardiorespiratory impacts.