Air Testing Content

Air pollution remains a prominent cause of adverse health effects despite ongoing efforts to improve air quality in urbanized areas, control measures and governmental legislation. Studies suggest that millions of deaths are attributable each year to human-caused outdoor air pollution and concurrent increases in fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Regulations have helped decrease emissions from industry, power plants and incinerators but consumption of fossil fuels is increasing and more cars are currently on the road. Additionally, a growing body of evidence suggests that indoor air may be more polluted than outdoor air, even in industrialized areas. Human exposure to indoor pollutants may be of greater relevance as up to 90% of daily activities are conducted indoors. PM, acrolein and formaldehyde were components of indoor air pollution deemed most responsible for the health effects observed. Epidemiological evidence has correlated both acute and chronic health effects to increased exposure to air pollution and more specifically, PM. Airborne carcinogens like polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) can increase the risk of cardiopulmonary disease and lung cancers 

It is obvious that our exposure to airborne pollutants is not decreasing and the quality of inhaled air is of significant concern to most people, not just those who live in close proximity to industrial or urban areas. It is therefore critical to identify and quantify human exposure to these air pollutants and evaluate potentially detrimental effects from genotoxic compounds. The diversity of toxicants contained in air pollution, and their potential interactions means that proper risk assessment cannot be adequately addressed using chemical analysis alone. Biological effect measurements like mutagenicity and genotoxicity testing can significantly improve air quality studies and monitoring programs by analyzing effects from unidentified substances, accounting for synergistic or antagonistic effects from interactions between individual pollutants and giving an indication of cumulative effects from a multitude of sources. Research has shown that PM from industrial and urban pollution caused significant positive responses in mutagenicity assays and that these assays are an efficient and cost effective way to evaluate chronic effects from PM constituents.

Due to overwhelming evidence of the dangers of particulate matter on both immediate and long-term human health, epidemiological evidence of the cancer causing potential of these pollutants and direct evidence of the mutagenic potential of PM components, EBPI has worked closely with several prominent organizations to provide biological effects data for air samples of various sources. EBPI’s products have been employed for both monitoring and regulatory testing applications and we offer complete solutions for this types of assessments in any air pollution project. 

EBPI has several products to enhance biological effect data in given studies for air quality and has developed several methodologies to support collection and extraction of air pollutants for testing. For additional reference on air filtration and extraction procedures to prepare samples prior to assessment, please refer to our technical documents on Air Filtration and Solvent Exchange. 

Mutagenic assessments can be carried out using any of our MOD ISO Mutagenicity Kits. These products display increased sensitivity over the traditional Ames II kits and have been employed successfully to evaluate mutagenicity in air filter extracts.

For higher throughput genotoxicity assessments, the SOS-ChromoTest is the perfect assay. SOS bacteria are sensitive to increases in oxidative stress which is a prominent suggested mechanism of toxicity for many PM components. The microplate design of these kits encourages multiple samples to be run at once and the basic kit can accommodate up to 10 samples with several dilutions and all necessary controls.

Both of the above options are available with S9 bioactivation capabilities to metabolize inert procarcinogens to their mutagenic metabolite. Metabolic activation is a key step in the carcinogenic pathway of many air pollutants and S9 homogenate increases the sensitivity and response of both assays for air samples. EBPI highly recommends including bioactivation with your assessment.

EBPI has also developed a specific line of bacterial strains to enhance responses from PM genotoxins without including S9 homogenate. Our line of Express P450 1A2 strains express human recombinant metabolic enzymes which preferentially metabolize several classes of  aromatic amines, PAHs and nitroaromatics. Studies have shown an increase in response sensitivity with the Express strains which is comparable to S9 bioactivation processes. These strains permit the user to get sensitive genotoxic and mutagenic responses without requiring extraneous addition of S9 liver homogenate or cofactors. The Express strains are perfect for conferring metabolic functionality without introducing extra steps and costly reagents.



1. Curtis, L., Rea, W., Smith-Willis, P., Fenyves, E., and Pan, Y. (2006) Adverse health effects of outdoor air pollutants. Environment International, 32, 815-830.

2. Raquel, A. S., West, J. J., Yuqiang, Z., et al. (2013) Global premature mortality due to anthropogenic outdoor air pollution and the contribution of past climate change. Environmental Research Letters, 8, 034005.Dockery DW, Pope CA 3rd, Xu X, et al. An association between air pollution and mortality in six US cities. N Engl J Med 1993; 329: 1753–59.

3. Pope, C. A., Thun, M. J., Namboodiri, M. M., et al. Particulate air pollution as a predictor of mortality in a prospective study of US adults. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1995; 151: 669–74.

4. Abbey DE, Nishino N, McDonnell WF, et al. Long-term inhalable particles and other air pollutants related to mortality in nonsmokers. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1999; 159: 373–82

5. Chan, C. K., and Yao, X. (2008) Air pollution in mega cities in China. Atmospheric Environment, 42, 1-42

6. Logue, J. M., Price, P. N., Singer, B. C., A Method to Estimate the Chronic Health Impact of Air Pollutants in U.S. Residences Environ Health Perspect. Feb 2012; 120(2): 216–222