The EU-funded ULTRHAS project will reveal the health threats posed by nanoparticles from different transport sources, and provide guidance for policy development to improve air quality and health.

ULTRHAS (ULtrafine particles from TRansportation – Health Assessment of Sources), which brings together partners from Norway, Finland, Germany, and the Adolphe Merkle Institute, aims to determine the impact of Ultrafine Particles (UFPs) from different transport mode emissions on human exposure and health. It will notably clarify the importance of physicochemical characteristics and atmospheric processes by applying cutting-edge exhaust generation and exposure approaches.

The overall objective of the project, backed by over €4 million in EU funding, is to improve risk assessment of air pollutants and to advise policymakers and regulators on more targeted mitigation measures against the emission components and sources that contribute the most to adverse effects. This will allow for development of more efficient strategies to improve urban air quality, and promote health and wellbeing.

The concept of ULTRHAS is to test a broad range of transport mode emissions (both exhaust and non-exhaust) under highly controlled laboratory conditions and provide detailed analysis of the physical and chemical characteristics and biological effects, through source campaigns that will constitute the main part of the project. The researchers involved will perform a hazard ranking of transport mode emissions, and through advanced bioinformatics make predictions on how physical and chemical emission characteristics influence biological effects, and then test these predictions by investigating model UFPs with varying characteristics. The ULTRHAS toxicity testing strategy is based on novel advanced cell models and exposure systems to assess multi-tissue effects, previously not  applied at this scale in inhalation toxicity testing.

ULTRHAS is comprised of seven working packages. The Adolphe Merkle Institute’s Prof. Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser (BioNanomaterials) will lead the fourth of these, which will identify potential adverse effects of UFPs beyond the lung, using advanced tissue models of the brain, liver, intestine, bladder, and the bloodstream. This will focus notably on assessing the biological processes that lead to effects from combustion-derived nanoparticles emitted by different transport modes such as aircraft, light-duty vehicles, and ship emissions.

ULTRHAS (project website)

ULTRHAS on Cordis