Personal exposure assessment to environmental pollutants
The research aims to assess individual exposure to pollutants of living and working environments, associated with personal habits (tobacco smoking, alcohol intake) and diet. This approach is based on human biological monitoring (HBM), and permits the evaluation of the dose actually absorbed by the body. Our research lines are focused on the identification of profiles of exposure to heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants, and pesticides, through the research of these pollutants and/or their biotransformation products in urine, blood, and other biological samples, such as hair. In particular hair, growing about 1 cm per month, may be useful to assess long-term exposure. The analytical techniques used for these investigations are liquid (LC) and gas chromatography (GC) or atomization by inductively coupled plasma (ICP) interfaced with mass spectrometry (MS). MS allows the identification of pollutants in complex media with high specificity and their quantification with high sensitivity. Furthermore research for new markers of stress is ongoing.
The biomarkers are then applied to investigate exposed subjects, for example, the general population exposed to solid waste incinerator emissions, or individuals exposed to pesticides used in agriculture or present as residues in the diet, or active and passive tobacco smokers.
The statistical analysis of the data allows the identification of subjects at increased risk due to exposure to specific environmental pollutants.