The laboratory deals with the assessment of the risk to health and the environment associated with chemicals, using in silico and in vitro toxicity models; in addition, the laboratory carries out monitoring of toxic factors in the environment and at work (such as dioxins, PCBs, PAHs, endocrine disruptors, pesticides, heavy metals).
These investigations are aimed at prioritizing risks and mitigating the effects, also through the replacement of the substances of greatest concern. Software for health and environmental effects have been developed in collaboration with US EPA and European authorities, and are implemented in the VEGA platform.
Reduction of the environmental and toxicological impact of chemicals
We are exposed daily to thousands of substances that have potential risks to human health and the environment. Current knowledge on the mechanisms of the toxicological processes of substances of industrial origin, cosmetics, pesticides, food additives, biocides, etc. is very limited. In silico models, supported by in vitro methods, can estimate these effects, for dozens of environmental, ecotoxicological and toxicological properties. An important line of research of the group led to the development of the VEGA platform, which makes dozens of models available free of charge on the website www.vegahub.eu. VEGA is linked to the OECD system known as the OECD QSAR Toolbox, has been used by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to prioritize chemicals of most concern, is mentioned in the guidance documents of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and is supported by numerous European and extra-European authorities. VEGA has been developed within numerous projects funded by the European Commission (CAESAR, CALEIDOS, EU-ToxRisk, VERMEER, CONCERT REACH, ToxcBank, COMBASE, ANTARES, EDESIA, ORCHESTRA, PROSIL) and by the German Government (PROMETHEUS, JANUS, toDIVINE). Through VEGA it is possible to estimate properties of toxicological, ecotoxicological, environmental, chemical-physical and toxicokinetic interest.
Identification of substitutes for substances of greater risk
The impact of contaminants and unwanted chemicals poses a risk. Currently, the possible adverse effects of pollutants are discovered a posteriori, and there is no effective strategy to minimize the harmful effects on humans and the environment. However, thanks to specific computer models, it is possible to anticipate the harmful properties of substances, reducing their harmful effects. In this way, the preparation of the new chemical compounds can be directed towards increasingly compatible solutions, with the desired characteristics. This software was developed within the CE VERMEER project (www.life-vermeer.eu/).
Sanitary hygiene evaluations
The uniqueness of the Institute within the IRCCS theme "Environmental Diseases" and "Public and Environmental Health" allows us to adopt applied research by developing Environmental and Health Monitoring Plans in the context of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of anthropogenic activities. HIA is carried out with a toxicological and epidemiological approach; in particular, the general criterion used is the analysis of health (effect-damage) at different trophic levels, starting with microorganisms, passing through simple model organisms, up to the top of the food chain, man. With this approach we intend to maintain a single toxicological model where the different levels are integrated, allowing a better understanding and verification of the possible effect on the different target organism and / or organ. This research is conducted, for example, within the FANGHI project (Advanced Forms of Management of Sewage Sludge) funded by the Lombardy Region. The objective of the project is the analysis of the Environmental Sustainability of new waste-to-energy technologies alternative to the disposal of sludge from water purification in agriculture. The applied research plan provides for the adoption of HIA as the basic criterion of the different sludge use strategies, applying the 2019 ISS guidelines, and integrating them with the HIA methodology developed by the Mario Negri Institute. In this way the harmful effects exerted by chemical and biological agents are evaluated through the study of single toxic substances and / or mixtures, their chemical, physical and microbiological characteristics and their biological effects. The result will be a Qualitative / Quantitative Toxicological Index which will allow each individual indicator to be correlated with the overall toxicological effect.
International Consensus on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.