Toxicology of Inhaled Ultrafine Particles and Engineered Nanomaterials
Despite improvements in air quality over time, air pollution still has significant public health impacts, particularly for low-income communities and communities of color, which are disproportionately exposed to pollution from multiple sources. Our laboratory has focused for several years on the toxicology of inhaled ultrafine particles (UFPs). We investigate the impacts of age, gaseous co-pollutant exposure, and health status on the response(s) to inhaled UFPs and the basis for adverse effects in the pulmonary, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems. Better understanding the effects of ultrafine and other ambient particles, as well as gas-particle mixtures, on health may inform future air quality regulations.
This research focus naturally led to our work with engineered nanomaterials. The research commonalities between UFP and nanomaterials are numerous, including the kinetics of tissue distribution following exposure, mechanisms of response related to oxidative stress, particle-protein interactions, and the physicochemical characteristics of the particles that determine response. We use a combination of animal and cell culture models as well as detailed particle characterization to better understand the potential health effects of these materials. This research is intended to inform occupational health protections during the production and use of nano- and advanced materials.