TUBE Project: Transport-Derived Ultrafines and the Brain Effects

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Dec 28;19(1):311. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19010311.


The adverse effects of air pollutants on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems are unquestionable. However, in recent years, indications of effects beyond these organ systems have become more evident. Traffic-related air pollution has been linked with neurological diseases, exacerbated cognitive dysfunction, and Alzheimer's disease. However, the exact air pollutant compositions and exposure scenarios leading to these adverse health effects are not known. Although several components of air pollution may be at play, recent experimental studies point to a key role of ultrafine particles (UFPs). While the importance of UFPs has been recognized, almost nothing is known about the smallest fraction of UFPs, and only >23 nm emissions are regulated in the EU. Moreover, the role of the semivolatile fraction of the emissions has been neglected. The Transport-Derived Ultrafines and the Brain Effects (TUBE) project will increase knowledge on harmful ultrafine air pollutants, as well as semivolatile compounds related to adverse health effects. By including all the major current combustion and emission control technologies, the TUBE project aims to provide new information on the adverse health effects of current traffic, as well as information for decision makers to develop more effective emission legislation. Most importantly, the TUBE project will include adverse health effects beyond the respiratory system; TUBE will assess how air pollution affects the brain and how air pollution particles might be removed from the brain. The purpose of this report is to describe the TUBE project, its background, and its goals.

Keywords: CNS; UFP; air pollution; brain; particulate matter; toxicology; traffic.