Seminar talk by Dr. Kelly BéruBé

Title: Breathing new life into air pollution research: recycling medical waste tissues for inhalation toxicology

Speaker: Dr. Kelly BéruBé, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Wales, UK

Date: Friday March 20th, 2015

Time: 10:30-11:30am

Where: Access webinar via

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With the advent of bio-banks to store human lung cells from human patient donations and from the procurement of medical waste tissues post-surgery, it is now possible to integrate (both spatially and temporally) cells into anatomically-correct and physiologically-functional tissues. Modern inhalation toxicology relies on human data on exposure and adverse effects, to determine the most appropriate risk assessments and mitigations for beneficial respiratory health. A point in case is the recapitulation of airway tissue, such as the bronchial epithelium, to investigate the impact of air pollution (i.e. particles and gases) on human respiratory health. The bronchi are the first point of contact for inhaled substances that by-pass defences in the upper respiratory tract. Animal models have been used to resolve such inhalation toxicology hazards. However, the access to medical waste tissues has enabled the Lung & Particle Research Group at Cardiff University to tissue-engineer the Micro-Lung™ and Metabo-Lung™ cell culture models, as alternatives to using animals for inhalation experiments. The former model favours investigations focused on lung injury and repair mechanisms, and the latter model provides the element of metabolism, through the co-culturing of lung (bronchial) and liver (hepatocyte) cells. These innovations represent examples of the animal-free alternatives advocated by the 21st Century toxicology paradigm (i.e. NRC, USA) whereby human-derived cell/tissue data will lead to more-accurate and more-reliable public health risk assessments and therapeutic mitigations (e.g. exposure to ambient air pollutants) for lung disease.

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Seminar talk by Dr. Yaacov Mamane

Date: Friday, Aug 29th, 2014 

Time: 2:00-3:00pm

Location: UBC Chemistry D215

Speaker: Dr. Yaacov Mamane, Technion, Israel (Environmental Engineering)

Title: Transport of Anthropogenic Elements on Saharan Dust Along the East Mediterranean


This study focuses on the possibility that dust storms minerals are "collecting" anthropogenic particles along their transport pathway to the East Mediterranean. The study involves:

(1)  Intensive sampling campaigns to characterize PM10 particles during seasons with high occurrence of dust storms. 24 hr samples of fine and coarse particles were collected up to four weeks with dichotomous samplers in various sites along the coast. Teflon filters were analyzed for gravimetric and elemental analysis (using XRF). Quartz, and Nuclepore filters were also used.

(2)  Study of individual particles using scanning electron microscopy.

Analyses of samples collected during dust storm showed high concentrations the presence of alumino-silicate elements in during the dust storm events. Ca concentrations (as calcite and dolomite) were often higher than Si. Those findings were true for both the coarse and fine particle fractions. Sea salt elements were associated with dust storms events, not necessarily on the same day, but a day later,  the result of stormy meteorological conditions associated with Saharan dust transported to the East Mediterranean.

Heavy metals of anthropogenic origin were associated with the minerals. These include V and Ni, particles emitted from combustion of crude oil in Europe and in East Mediterranean, Pb, Zn, Se and As, oil from coal combustion sources. Coarse particle fractions could be explained by two factors (using principal component analysis): mineral elements associated with anthropogenic heavy metals, and sea salt. In the fine particle fraction this association has not been observed. Dust storms may be efficient in transporting anthropogenic constituents with them.  The "coating" of minerals with heavy metal particles may have a significant impact on the radiative properties of minerals, and health effect.