Pollution : a global alarm

An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to polluted environments, nearly 1 in 5 of total global deaths, according to new estimates from WHO (World Health Organization).  The vast majority of environment-related deaths are due to cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and ischaemic heart disease, and cancer. Moreover, a huge panel of pollution related diseases is in continuous expansion, leading from lead to tissue damage and inflammation, from asthma to allergy, and subsequently impacting public health and society in a very large manner (WHO).  

By 2050, the number of deaths caused only by air pollution is estimated to be around 6 millions, according to OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

Today there are more than 4.000 pharmaceutical compounds, up to 70.000 compounds in daily use, and up to 65.000.000 chemicals and formulations commercially available. While not all chemicals are hazardous, exposure to some chemicals can cause severe human health or environmental effects. 

Given the ubiquitous nature of chemicals, the exposure can occur from consuming water, ingestion, inhalation or skin contact.


Pollution exposure assessment

A large number of substances, chemicals or more complex mixture (i.e. particulate matter, PM) are now classified as environmental pollutants. Despite their chemical differences, environmental pollutants have shown deleterious consequences to eco-systems and health, large-scale effects of  diseases,  illness, morbidity and mortality of individual living organisms.

Chemical-physical assessing of pollution can help to qualify air, water and soil composition, detect the emission of particular chemicals or complex mixtures, detect peaks of emission, quantify specific bio-accumulations. However, even extensive chemical monitoring can only detect a limited subset of the vast number of chemicals that are likely present and only those above a methodologically defined detection limit. Also, potential additive and synergistic effects due to a mixture of chemicals can't be evaluated and "unknown pollutant" can't be traced. In the other hand, bio-monitoring and eco-toxicological studies can picture the consequences of pollution exposure at the biological level, resulting to morbidity and mortality of organisms. With this approach is possible to measure the effects of pollutants to the biological systems resulting in a physiological impairment or effect. However, the low sensibility, reproducibility and lethal dose assessment limite the application of those approches: i.e. acute toxicity tests may not be the most suitable to evaluate the hazard of micro-pollutants because of the low concentrations.

While assessing chemical release can help to reduce their emissions, assessing chemical impact on living biological system can provide us an early alarm of their consequences on health offering the advantage of rapide reactions aiming to anticipate, fight and reverse large-scale eco-toxicological consequences. Bioassay screening tools are quite likely to improve consumer confidence by providing a more comprehensive evaluation of chemical constituents and instilling a greater sense of security in that “unknowns” are being better addressed. To date, the majority of informations needed to determine hazard of a chemical have been generated in laboratories during the past decades, supporting regulatory decision making.

Today, a sub-lethal toxicity approach coupled to "omics" technique, opens new horizons in the evaluation of cellular and molecular impacts as early stages of health consequences of pollution exposure.


Protein Oxidation : the intersection of early impacts of the exposure to pollution

Molecular mechanisms, in which oxidative stress plays a pivotal role, are described at the cross-road where exposition to pollutant and pollution-induced health effects meet. Overcoming some variables of exposure to hazardous chemicals or complex mixture (i.e.chemical nature and concentration, time, way of contact), our body defences can't be able to eliminate or repair the damages provoked by pollutant stressors, so oxidatively damaged proteins as well as other toxic molecules start to accumulate in our body. These “damaged” proteins are no more active, they loose their function and they can also become toxic. As a consequence, late effects of those molecular impairments can be morbidity and mortality.

Industrials, resource managers and municipalities are receiving increasing pressure from population to provide solid scientific evidence of "safe-environmental" living. Eco-toxicological effects, losses of biodiversity, pollution-associated diseases and deaths are the consequences of earlier changes in basic biological and physiological processes occurring at the molecular and cellular level. Among them, oxidative stress damage plays a pivotal role, being at the cross-road where exposition to pollutant and pollution-induced health effects meet. Up to now, existing technologies for quantifying oxidative protein damage do not provide reliable and conclusive results. These technologies are based on the indirect detection of oxidatively damaged (carbonylated) proteins by using antibodies against a derivatized product of oxidatively-modified proteins, thus having serious limitations in their quantitative performance and specificity.

Nowadays, one of the greatest challenges in potable reuse implementation is public perception, which is largely influenced by fears surrounding unknown and uncharacterized organic chemical mixtures (WRF 09–01, 2012). Bioassay screening tools are quite likely to improve consumer confidence by providing a more comprehensive evaluation of chemical constituents and instilling a greater sense of security in that “unknowns” are being better addressed.

OxiProteomics' technology: a path forward towards evaluations of impact of pollution 

Increased levels of oxidatively damaged proteins indicate a dysfunction and has been demonstrated to play an active role in accelerating the ageing process, as well as to play a role in several pathological conditions related to oxidative stress. Proteins are essential for the function of our cells, our good health depends on their quality.

OxiProteomics's technology is capable to detect, analyse and quantify the amount of oxidatively damaged proteins (carbonylation) in any biological sample or organism, offering new solutions for bio-monitoring, pollution and environmental quality assessments. Moreover, optimised testing strategies combining a first screening stage with Oxi-Green tools to a specific-second screening can lead to a reduction of total analytical costs as the measurement of hundreds of chemicals.


Coupling Sentinel-Organisms to Oxiproteomics's technology : OXI-GREEN