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Cars in traffic jams in fog
©Philippe Ramakers -

Aerosols and Health


In April 2008, the University of Rostock (UR) and Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) started a permanent scientific and structural cooperation in the general areas of environmental health research and analytical instrument development, as stipulated in the cooperation agreement between the GSF Research Center (the pre-predecessor institution of Helmholtz Munich) and the University of Rostock in December 2007. Subsequently, a joint research unit of UR and HMGU, the "Joint Mass Spectrometry Centre" (JMSC), was established.

The scientific activities of the JMSC are currently divided into two general research areas, Aerosols and Health and Enabling Analytical Technologies. The research program is aligned with the Helmholtz Mission of the national Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers (HGF) and the Program Oriented Funding (POF) of the HGF for Environment and Health at Helmholtz Munich.

The goal of the first research area Aerosols and Health is to investigate the effects of aerosols and air pollution on human health. Environmental factors that are directly or indirectly relevant to human health and well-being are investigated. A distinctive activity in this research area is the study of the health effects of ambient and emission aerosols. The research area is also directly related to the Helmholtz Virtual Institute HICE - Aerosol and Health or its continuation (newHICE) in basic funding/POF at HMGU and the Helmholtz International Lab aeroHEALTH, which is led by CMA.

The work of the research area "Aerosols and Health" is organized in five research groups at UR and Helmholtz Munich, each represented and led by an experienced scientific topic leader:

The research area Aerosol Chemistry (Schnelle-Kreis-Lab) is concerned with the chemical characterization of all types of aerosols, both ambient aerosols and combustion aerosols and artificially aged aerosols. The Aerosol Physics Research Area (Sklorz-Lab) is responsible for the physical characterization of aerosols, e.g., by determining size distributions and addressing issues of aerosol dosing in ALI systems and workplace aerosols. The research topic Aerosol Toxicology (Delaval-Lab) deals with biological effects of cell culture models exposed to aerosols at the air-liquid interface (ALI). The characterization of the biological response is performed at different omics levels as well as by functional assays. In the Aerosol Mutagenesis theme (Di Bucchianico-Lab), both primary and secondary genotoxic and mutagenic effects of aerosols are studied. In addition, biomarkers of exposure and oxidative stress are evaluated using chromatographic and mass spectrometric methods. The Helmholtz International Lab aeroHEALTH is managed within the research area aeroHEALTH & Data Analysis (Czech-Lab). In addition, the division leads the simulation of aerosol aging processes as well as chemometric data analysis and the integration of physicochemical and biological data in aerosol and health research.