The unit carries out experimental research on early effects and toxicokinetics (absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion) of chemicals in the air in humans. The emphasis is on controlled experiments with volunteers in an exposure-chamber, one of few in the world.
Another research area concerns skin uptake of chemicals occurring at the workplace. We have developed a new method to measure skin uptake in vitro by thermogravimetric analysis. The method has several advantages over conventional methods.
Several projects related to development of breath biomonitoring, for example diagnosis of cyanide poisoning. Hydrogen cyanide has been found to be an important cause of death in fires. Other projects aim to understand and describe the absorption and desorption processes (washin-washout effect) during the respiratory cycle.
In parallel with the experimental studies we develop physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) and other mathematical models. Experimental data and models are important inputs in risk assessment, e.g. to calculate target doses and to extrapolate between different routes of exposure and from animals to humans.
One project (supported by FORTE, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare) aims to provide an improved basis for interpretation of biomonitoring data and for development of biological limit values by PBPK modeling and Bayesian statistical approaches and Markov-chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) simulation.
Another project (supported by FORTE and the EU project NANoREG) aims to develop a PBTK model for nanoparticles.