Chemometers to determine the environmental and human exposome by mixtures of pollutants

Graphical outline of EXPOSO-METER.
Graphical outline of the project.

EXPOSO-METER aims to establish novel chemometer technology to integrate the lifelong exposure of environmental creatures and humans to mixtures of pollutants and to strengthen the link between ecosystem health and human health. The key innovation is polymer “chemometers” that will be equilibrated with their surroundings and deliver information on the pollutants’ chemical activity in the environment, biota, and humans. A chemometer functions analogously to a thermometer, but instead of the temperature, it yields a measure of chemical activity. Chemical activity in turn indicates the thermodynamic potential for, e.g., partitioning, biouptake and effects. EXPOSO-METER aims to overcome shortcomings of the current ecotoxicological assessment of single chemicals that disregards availability of pollutants, ignores mixture effects and is difficult to extrapolate to human health. Solvent extracts of the chemometers will be characterized using top-notch chemical analysis for fingerprinting of the mixtures of pollutants.

Group leader: Annika Jahnke (contact: annika.jahnke[at]ufz.de)

Group co-lead: Elisa Rojo Nieto (contact: elisa.rojo-nieto[at]ufz.de)

Previous team members: Eva Reiter, Angelina Miller, Njoud Alsabbagh

Within EXPOSO-METER, the following important research questions will be tackled: Which processes drive the bioaccumulation of pollutants in environmental biota and humans on a thermodynamic basis? Are there differences between bioaccumulation between aquatic and terrestrial environments and how do exposure patterns vary geographically? By combining these research efforts, EXPOSO-METER will provide a unique toolbox to assess mixtures of environmental pollutants in the environment and in humans and enable linking the assessment of ecosystem health and human health.

Bioaccumulation in aquatic and terrestrial domains
Bioaccumulation in aquatic and terrestrial domains.
The logo of EXPOSO-METER.
Lifelong exposure.
Lifelong exposure can be characterized by the exposome.

Project HazMarMa

Our activities within EXPOSO-METER related to marine mammals also feed into the new project HazMarMa "Development of a monitoring and assessment concept for hazardous substances for marine mammals in the North  and Baltic Sea to implement the MSFD" led by the Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research (ITAW) at the University of Veterinary Medicine (TiHo) Hannover.

Publications (available from https://zenodo.org)

[1] Reiter, E.B.; Escher, B.I.; Siebert, U.; Jahnke, A. Activation of the xenobiotic metabolism and oxidative stress response by mixtures of organic pollutants extracted with in-tissue passive sampling from liver, kidney, brain and blubber of marine mammals. Environ. Int. 2022, 165, 107337. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2022.107337

[2] Wernicke, T.; Rojo-Nieto, E.; Paschke, A.; Nogueira Tavares, C.; Brauns, M.; Jahnke, A. Exploring the partitioning of hydrophobic organic compounds between water, suspended particulate matter and diverse fish species in a German river ecosystem. Environ. Sci. Europe 2022, 34, 66. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12302-022-00644-w

[3] Rohner, S.; Morell, M.; Wohlsein, P.; Stürznickel, J.; Reiter, E.B.; Jahnke, A.; Prenger-Berninghoff, E.; Ewers, C.; Walther, G.; Striewe, L.C.; Failla, A.V.; Siebert, U. Fatal aspergillosis and evidence of unrelated hearing loss in a harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) from the German Baltic Sea. Front. Mar. Sci. 2022, https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2022.958019

[4] Rojo-Nieto, E.; Jahnke, A. Chemometers: an integrative tool for chemical assessment in multimedia environments. Chem. Comm. 2023, 59, 3193. https://doi.org/10.1039/D2CC06882F

[5] Reiter, E.B.; Escher, B.I.; Rojo-Nieto, E.; Nolte, H.; Siebert, U.; Jahnke, A. Characterizing the marine mammal exposome by iceberg modeling, linking chemical analysis and in vitro bioassays. Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts 2023, Advance Article, https://doi.org/10.1039/d3em00033h