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Health impact of airborne particulate matter in Northern Lebanon : from a pilot epidemiological study to physico-chemical characterization and toxicological effects assessment

Abstract : Exposure to air pollution, especially fine particulate matter (PM₂.₅), remains a major health risk, mainly in the developing countries. Northern Lebanon is affected by several sources of anthropogenic, urban and industrial pollution. However, no studies have examined the impact of PM₂.₅ on public health in this region. In addition, it should be noted that the toxicity mechanisms of PM₂.₅ are not fully identified. The aim of this work is to study the composition and the health impact of the atmospheric particulates in Northern Lebanon. An epidemiological survey was performed and fine particles were extracted and characterized physico-chemically and toxicologically. This study was conducted in two sites, one of which is influenced by industrial activities. Perception and epidemiological survet, conducted in two areas in Northern Lebanon, rural and industrial (310 treatable questionnaires/area), showed a relationship between annoyance, respiratory diseases and living in proximity to industrial activities. Moreover, results confirmed the interest in conducting a toxicological study in this region. Hence, to contribute to fulfill the gap of knowledge about the pulmonary toxicity of particulate matter and the mechanisms of action involved in the carcinogenicity, the study of physicochemical characteristics and toxicological endpoints of PM₂.₅₋₀.₃ from both sites were performed. Physicochemical analyses of the collected particles evidenced similar characteristics in major species. In particular, we have shown slightly higher levels of PAHs and trace metals and up to 100 times higher dioxins concentrations at the vicinity of industries. Our results evidenced the influence of numerous combustion sources (diesel, gasoline, coal and biomass burning) ; waste combustion and other industrial processes are also suspected. A more pronounced genotoxic and mutagenic potential was evidenced after exposure to particles collected at the vicinity of industries when compared to the rural ones, using the Ames fluctuation test and SOS chromotest. The effects of the collected particles are probably related to their organic composition. In order to assess the underlying toxic mechanisms, human bronchial epithelial cells (BEAS-2B) were then exposed to different concentrations of the sampled PM₂.₅₋₀.₃. Genotoxicity mechanisms such as metabolic activation of organic compounds (CYP1A1) and consecutive DNA damages such as DNA strands breaks (yH2AX quantification by flow cytometry analysis and in-cell western assay) were induced by the two samples of PM₂.₅₋₀.₃ , with a more pronounced effect of industrial particles. Moreover, PM showed tendency to alter the DNA repair process (OGGI, NTH1, APE1, NUDT1, DNMT1, MGMT, XPA, XRRC1 gene expression and PARP1, DNMT1, OGG1 proteins expression). DNA repair mechanisms were repressed up to 48h of exposure to PM especially to the industrial influenced PM₂.₅₋₀.₃ and reactivated after 72h of exposure. The DNA damages involve bulky DNA adducts, oxidative stress damages, DNA strand breaks and methylation. These results suggest mutagenic, genotoxic and epigenetic mechanisms of action involved in the carcinogenicity of fine particles, partly related to their organic composition.
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Pamela Melki. Health impact of airborne particulate matter in Northern Lebanon : from a pilot epidemiological study to physico-chemical characterization and toxicological effects assessment. Human health and pathology. Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale; Université de Balamand (Tripoli, Liban), 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017DUNK0444⟩. ⟨tel-02088915⟩

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