Chemometers to determine the environmental and human exposome by mixtures of pollutants
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)
Current team members: Eva Reiter, 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.
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.