Airborne substances constantly surround us in our daily life: during leisure time, at the workplace, out in nature, and also at home. Our contact with these substances occurs primarily via the skin and the airways. With up to 2 m² (skin) and up to 100 m² (lung), these organs provide huge surfaces where such contact can take place.
Contact of the skin’s surface or the inner surface of the lung with airborne substances can be intentional, for example to achieve a pharmacological effect. Administration of a drug such as an asthma inhaler or a nasal spray is an example of this. The intention can also be a cosmetic effect, for example when applying fragrances, antiperspirants, skin care products, or sunscreen sprays.
If contact is unwanted, the reason why is often that a toxicological effect is expected. This can hold true for substances in the ambient air (exhaust gas, pollen, cigarette smoke …), at workplaces (printer emissions, welding fumes, manufacturing processes …), but also in private homes (emissions from carpets or furniture, painting and grinding during home renovation etc.).
Understanding the biological effects of all these substances is important, so as to protect our health and avoid or mitigate hazards by taking appropriate measures. Just like chemicals, which require toxicological characterization before they can be marketed in Europe, it is important to comprehensively investigate these substances as well.
Until recently, tests for this purpose had to be performed above all in experimental animals.The P.R.I.T.® technology now provides a meaningful, alternative in-vitro test method based on cell cultures for toxicological testing of airborne substances from a large variety of sources.