Environmental Exposures

Overview

The Environmental Exposures programme is designed to advance our understanding of the effects of some of the most common environmental pollutants on individual and population health such as the effects of air pollution, non-ionising radiation, and emerging environmental hazards like microplastics.

We recognise the need for improved quality, accuracy and scope of exposure metrics for use in panel and population studies, thereby helping to establish a more robust and targeted link between environmental exposures and a diverse set of health outcomes.

We intend to remain at the forefront of advancements in sensor and remote sensing technologies. We will take advantage of opportunities in crowd sourcing information on individuals’ interactions with the environment such as travel and activity patterns. Reducing exposure misclassification and increasing specificity of exposure metrics are key goals for the next quinquennium. To achieve this we will further develop the London Hybrid Exposure Model (LHEM) to investigate the strong spatial concentration gradients and variability in air pollutants across urban areas. Previous models do not take account of exposures within the home, at work/school and in different travel micro-environments. The LHEM will play a central role in our future research investigating the independent effects of NO2 and PM2.5 on health.

PM metal (both transition and heavy metal) content remains an important interest, making use of the Wellcome-funded metallomics facility. New research has been initiated in dementia we are investigating the possible deposition of transition metals in human brain tissue.

We are undertaking epidemiological analyses of mobile phone use and cancer and cardiovascular disease incidence, reproductive effects and reported symptoms among the international COSMOS consortium that includes over 300,000 participants in five European countries; and we are analysing cognitive development amongst adolescents in the SCAMP study. These large prospective studies include for the first time robust exposure assessment based on state of the art methods for reducing the error inherent from relying on self-reported mobile phone and radio use.

We are also alert to the potential emergence of new environmental challenges and hazards. One such example is microplastics where we are investigating the toxicological impact of different airborne microplastics in model systems in collaboration with colleagues in the MRC Toxicology Unit

 

Team

Programme Leader: Professor Frank Kelly (KCL)

Principal teams: F Kelly, B BarrattL Barron, S Beevers, G Fuller, D Green, K Katsouyanni, I Mudway, S Wright.

Associated teams: P Cullinan, A de Nazelle, M Ezzati, D Jarvis, J Quint.

 

Key Projects
• Our air pollution modelling [1] helped develop the London Environment Strategy which includes the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (uLEZ) policy, in collaboration with the Greater London Authority, with the aim of reducing air pollution in London.

• We developed a fine-scale outdoor air pollution exposure model for the UK (CMAQ-urban) whose estimates (for NOX, NO2 and O3) have been used to i) characterize effects on children’s respiratory health [2], birth weight [3], psychotic experiences in teenagers [4] and forecast public health impacts of climate policies to 2050 [5].

• Overseas our research demonstrated associations between daily air quality and hospitalisations for acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Beijing [6]. We reported on air quality changes after Hong Kong shipping emission policy was introduced [7] and we undertook vertical monitoring of traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) in urban street canyons of Hong Kong [8] and examined the associated between long term exposure to air pollution and mortality in an elderly cohort in Hong Kong [9].

• We undertook a Systematic Review on Air Pollution and Dementia [10] and we examined the potential of omics approaches to elucidate mechanisms of biodiesel-induced pulmonary toxicity [11].

• We have examined the deposition rate of atmospheric microplastic deposition in an urban environment and evaluated its transport [12] and we have used Raman Spectral Imaging for the Detection of Inhalable Microplastics in Ambient Particulate Matter Samples [13].

• We have examined the relationships between airborne pollutants, serum albumin adducts and short-term health outcomes in an experimental crossover study [14], we examined the source apportionment of particle number size distribution in urban background and traffic stations in four European cities [15] we quantified the concentration of PM2.5 on the London Underground [16] and we established the mineralogy, geochemistry and oxidative potential of size-segregated respirable deposited dust in underground coal mines [17].

• We established the MRC-funded COPE panel study, carrying out detailed measurements of personal exposure and lung function among 120 COPD patients in London [18]. Similar measurement techniques have been used to support other panel studies in the Centre, including the Oxford Street II study [19] and EXPOsOMICS where personal measurements were linked to omic signatures in blood [20].

Key Project References
1. Smith J.D., Mitsakou C., Kitwiroon N., Barratt B.M., Walton H.A., Taylor J.G., Anderson H.R., Kelly F.J., Beevers S.D. London Hybrid Exposure Model: Improving Human Exposure Estimates to NO2 and PM2.5 in an Urban Setting. Environmental Science and Technology. 50: 11760-78, 2016

2. Mudway IS, Dundas I, Wood HE, Marlin N, Jamaludin JB, Bremner SA, Cross L, Grieve A, Nanzer A, Barratt BM, Beevers S, Dajnak D, Fuller GW, Font A, Colligan G, Sheikh A, Walton R, Grigg J, Kelly FJ, Lee TH, Griffiths CJ. Impact of London's low emission zone on air quality and children's respiratory health: a sequential annual cross-sectional study. Lancet Public Health. 2019 Jan;4(1):e28-e40.

3. Smith RB, Fecht D, Gulliver J, Beevers SD, Dajnak D, Blangiardo M, Ghosh RE, Hansell AL, Kelly FJ, Anderson HR, Toledano MB. Impact of London's road traffic air and noise pollution on birth weight: retrospective population based cohort study. BMJ 2017 Dec 5;359:j5299.

4. Newbury JB, Arseneault L, Beevers S, Kitwiroon N, Roberts S, Pariante CM, Kelly FJ, Fisher HL. Association of Air Pollution Exposure With Psychotic Experiences During Adolescence. JAMA Psychiatry 2019 Jun 1;76(6):614-623.

5. The Lancet Countdown on health benefits from the UK Climate Change Act: a modelling study for Great Britain. Williams ML, Lott MC, Kitwiroon N, Dajnak D, Walton H, Holland M, Pye S, Fecht D, Toledano MB, Beevers SD. Lancet Planet Health. 2018 May;2(5):e202-e213.

6. Lirong Liang, Yutong Cai, Benjamin Barratt, Baolei Lyu, Queenie Chan, Anna L Hansell, Wuxiang Xie, Di Zhang, Frank J Kelly, Zhaohui Tong (2019). Associations between daily air quality and hospitalisations for acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Beijing, 2013-17: an ecological analysis. The Lancet. Planetary Health 3(6):270-279. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(19)30085-3.

7. Tonya G. Mason, King Pan Chan, C. Mary Schooling, Shengzhi Sun, Aimin Yang, Yang Yang, Benjamin Barratt, Linwei Tian (2019). Air quality changes after Hong Kong shipping emission policy: An accountability study. Chemosphere. 226:616-624. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.03.173.

8. Wong, P. P. Y., Lai, P-C., Allen, R., Cheng, W., Lee, M., Tang, R., Thach, T-Q., TIan, L., Brauer, M. & Barratt, B. (2019). Vertical monitoring of traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) in urban street canyons of Hong Kong. STOTEN. 670, 696-703. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.03.224

9. Long term exposure to air pollution and mortality in an elderly cohort in Hong Kong. Yang Y, Tang R, Qiu H, Lai PC, Wong P, Thach TQ, Allen R, Brauer M, Tian L, Barratt B. Environ Int. 2018 Aug;117:99-106.

10. Peters R, Ee N, Peters J, Booth A, Mudway I, Anstey KJ. Air Pollution and Dementia: A Systematic Review. J Alzheimers Dis. 2019;70(s1):S145-S163.

11. Selley L, Phillips DH, Mudway I. The potential of omics approaches to elucidate mechanisms of biodiesel-induced pulmonary toxicity. Part Fibre Toxicol. 2019;16(1):4.

12. Wright S, Uke J, Font A, Chan KLA, and FJ Kelly. Atmospheric microplastic deposition in an urban environment and an evaluation of transport. Environment International 136: 105411, 2020

13. Wright S, Livermore J, Kelly FJ. Raman Spectral Imaging for the Detection of Inhalable Microplastics in Ambient Particulate Matter Samples. Environmental Science & Technology 53: 8947−8956, 2019

14. George W Preston, Sonia Dagnino, Erica Ponzi, Osman Sozeri, Karin van Veldhoven, Benjamin Barratt, Sa Liu, Hasmik Grigoryan, Sixin S Lu, Stephen M Rappaport, Kian Fan Chung, Paul Cullinan, Rudy Sinharay, Frank J. Kelly, Marc Chadeau-Hyam, Paolo Vineis, David H Phillips. Relationships between airborne pollutants, serum albumin adducts and short-term health outcomes in an experimental crossover study. Chemosphere 239: 124667, 2020

15. Ioar Rivas, David C.S. Beddows, Fulvio Amato, David Green, Leena Jarvi, Christoph Hueglin, Cristina Reche, Hilkka Timonen, Gary Fuller, Jarkko V. Niemi, Noemi Perez, Minna Aurela, Philip Hopke, Andres Alastuey, Markku Kulmala, Roy Harrison, Xavier Querol, Frank J. Kelly. Source apportionment of particle number size distribution in urban background and traffic stations in four European cities. Environment International 135: 105345, 2020

16. Smith, James, Barratt, Benjamin, Fuller, Gary, Kelly, Frank J, Loxham, Matthew, Nicolosi, Eleonora, Priestman, Max, Tremper, Anja and Green, David. PM2.5 on the London Underground. Environment International. 134: 105188, 2020

17. Pedro Trechera, Teresa Moreno, Patricia Córdoba, Natalia Moreno, Xinguo Zhuang, Baoqing Li, Jing Li, Yunfei Shangguan, Konrad Kandler, Ana Oliete Dominguez, Frank Kelly, Xavier Querol. Mineralogy, geochemistry and oxidative potential of size-segregated respirable deposited dust in underground coal mines. Journal of Hazardous Materials 122935 2020

18. Linking e-health records, patient-reported symptoms and environmental exposure data to characterise and model COPD exacerbations: protocol for the COPE study. Moore E, Chatzidiakou L, Jones RL, Smeeth L, Beevers S, Kelly FJ, K Quint J, Barratt B. BMJ Open. 2016 Jul 13;6(7):e011330.

19. Respiratory and cardiovascular responses to walking down a traffic-polluted road compared with walking in a traffic-free area in participants aged 60 years and older with chronic lung or heart disease and age-matched healthy controls: a randomised, crossover study. Sinharay R, Gong J, Barratt B, Ohman-Strickland P, Ernst S, Kelly FJ, Zhang JJ, Collins P, Cullinan P, Chung KF. Lancet. 2018 Jan 27;391(10118):339-349 Erratum in: Lancet. 2018 Jan 27;391(10118):308.

20. The human circulating miRNome reflects multiple organ disease risks in association with short-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution. Krauskopf J, Caiment F, van Veldhoven K, Chadeau-Hyam M, Sinharay R, Chung KF, Cullinan P, Collins P, Barratt B, Kelly FJ, Vermeulen R, Vineis P, de Kok TM, Kleinjans JC. Environ Int. 2018;113:26-34.