A pioneering project, PMOLLUGENIX, funded by the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO), has been conducted during 2 years. This project, coordinated by Sciensano and in collaboration with the Catholic University of Louvain, the University of Hasselt and the Vlaamse Milieumaatschappij, aimed to evaluate the feasibility of measuring the effects of air pollution on the respiratory health of children in future large scale studies. A workshop, gathering all project partners and stakeholders in the field, took place on the 8th of November, as part of the closure of the project.
Monitor the effects of poor air quality on children
The poor air quality including high levels of particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen oxides, represents a major threat to public health and especially for the most vulnerable population like children. Biomarkers used as measurable indicators of exposure, effect and susceptibility, may help to monitor children’s respiratory health and to take decisions to limit the pollutant exposure of the population. During the PMOLLUGENIX project, non-invasive samples (saliva and urine) of 40 children were collected to analyse biomarkers in order to :
- develop a strategy to measure the effects of air pollution on their respiratory system
- evaluate if a larger-scale study might be possible in the future, using the developed strategy.
Workshop with stakeholders
On the 8th of November, a workshop took place, as part of the closure of the project. The workshop was organised by Sciensano together with the working group “Heat and ozone peaks”, coordinated by the Belgian Interregional Environment Agency (IRCEL — CELINE). It gathered all the project partners and various stakeholders (various cabinets, Federal Public Service of Public Health, Environment Brussels, Royal Meteorological Institute, Ircel-Celine). The aim of this workshop was to create an interactive afternoon where the :
- final findings of the project could be communicated and expertise could be exchanged among experts and organisations of various fields
- importance of non-invasive biomarkers for monitoring the effect of air pollution and its impact on children’s respiratory health could be put into context
- feasibility of the developed strategy was evaluated, identifying the practical bottlenecks for conducting this type of study at a larger scale in order to provide the missing scientific knowledge necessary for the preparation, implementation and evaluation of federal policies
“The discussion and interaction between experts from the field generated valuable input useful for the set-up of future large scale epidemiological studies” explains Sarah Nauwelaerts, researcher at Sciensano.
Sciensano wants to continue to promote this type of projects and interaction between experts in the field.