Indoor/outdoor Bioaerosols Interface and Relationships Network - BioAirNet

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: School of Water, Energy and Environment

Abstract

In 2019 the Public Health of England estimated that, in the UK, between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year can be attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution. However, we still do not know what role particulate matter of biological origins (BioPM) or bioaerosols play in this health burden nor the precise impact of exposures within the indoor or outdoor continuum. Therefore, we don't yet know how to control BioPM. There is also significant knowledge gap on how the physico-chemical and biological characteristics of BioPM emissions are affected at the indoor-outdoor continuum and how these affect exposure patterns and what are the resultant health impacts. The lack of progress to date mainly stems from disconnected scientific disciplines and sectoral foci, each with their own perspectives, terminology and methods. Likewise, lack of knowledge on dose-response relationships and changing landscapes of psychosocial, economical and physical vulnerability and susceptibility of the population to BioPM over the life course and in different indoor and outdoor environments are key barriers to the estimation of health benefits. Therefore, the proposed network will address the interdisciplinary challenge needed for quantifying and managing human exposure to biological particulate matters and related health risks across a continuum of diverse indoor to outdoor environments. The research will engage with a wide range of actors to realise societal impact and establish cross-collaboration activities along with a roadmap for a comprehensive "Bio-exposome" assessment and characterisation.

Interactive activities including workshops and an online discussion forum are planned throughout the project. These activities will offer a unique opportunity for participants to debate issues around BioPM in a contested space with different interest groups. This will reveal new ways of thinking and innovative solutions to policy and issues around BioPM, as well as informing the ongoing focus of the network. Networking and dissemination activities include an annual based community event which showcases the disciplines needed to create a coherent research community that can explore the field all the way from functionality at a molecular level to the societal implications of introducing new approaches and technologies. Working groups (WG) each focused on a different theme will identify priority areas and draw on selected participants to ensure cross-fertilisation and the transfer of knowledge between disciplines, translating these into tangible outputs for stakeholders, policy-makers and other community-based actors. Joint events with other Networks will have an important function for cross-fertilisation and two-way transfer of knowledge and expertise. Cross-theme workshops will act as sandpits for cross-disciplinary and industry/academic discussion of transitional research developments. There is also a strong focus on empowering early career researchers (ECR) with an annual ECR conference, cross-disciplinary skills training, outreach activities, active programmes of inter-laboratory and industry secondments and directly allocated funds for ECR mobility to present work at international events.

BioAirNet has a strong and robust management and governance plan that has a high level of community-based stakeholders' involvement and reaches out to attract membership of the Air Community worldwide.

Planned Impact

The Network has been specifically planned to deliver the following impacts:
1. Widening and strengthening connections with influential trade groups, learned societies and associations (e.g. Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, Saint Gobain, Renewable Energy Association, the Aerosol Society and the Institute of Physics, RSK, Building Engineering Services Association). Representation from these is key towards long-term sustainability, maintaining broader industry, charity and business support for the network, and for accessing supplementary specialist expertise. The dissemination channels available through these organisations, and their voice in the context of government policy and regulators, will prove vital to the uptake of the network activities, and hence impact and benefit of the network.
2. Providing multiple opportunities for debate and dialogue (e.g. Theme Working Group meetings and cross-theme activities), shared problem solving, and collaboration (e.g. exchanges & training). Opening up BioAirNet events to both the private sector and non-partner institutions will enhance the potential academic and commercial benefits of the Network and ensure its long-term sustainability through a transition to self-funded activities.
3. Supporting capacity development and capability in a co-owned and professional framework that will contribute to the development and dissemination of a systematic and cross cutting approach and related tools allowing to work across disciplines, engage with stakeholders and impact on policy. Further benefits will be realised through activities for future funding applications and extended international collaborations beyond those developed within the BioAirNet activities.
4. Touching on societal challenges such as environmental sustainability, human health and wellbeing, air quality and living urban environments. As a result, we expect the network's outputs to be of interest to national and local media and will work with the partner universities to publicise the outputs through these.
5. Enhancing the development of Early Career Researchers (ECRs) as highly skilled researchers with the theoretical and practical skills needed to transform organisations, addressing a recognised skills gap.
6. Engaging through outreach activities with local schools allowing young people to meet inspiring role models and experience hands-on STEM activities. This STEM collaboration will aim to develop educational support materials for use by local teachers and to provide a legacy of resource for teaching beyond the end of the project. Societal impact will also be attained through public engagement and education outputs, including events such as the MK Science Festival.
7. Impacting on the research agenda by promoting whole systems approaches to environmental research as a key to high quality interdisciplinary outcomes. It will assist in national and international dissemination of its members' work for presentation at conferences, by web publishing the proceedings of its own workshops, symposia and conferences and drawing attention to these events and outputs through social media.
8. Providing a source of evidence and expertise in support of UK policy in the field air pollution, both through direct involvement with bodies such as the Environment Agency (EA) and indirectly by working with Trade and Professional associations in an advisory capacity.
9. Support the personal development of Network members across the career span, and especially at early career stage, by providing opportunities for interaction between community-based stakeholders and academic researchers and creating lasting links (both nationally and internationally) between different disciplines and communities.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Dstl 
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Meeting at Dstl to discuss project and finalise secondment. Second meeting with Dstl to discuss progress to date
Collaborator Contribution Information on pathogen levels and sampling techniques
Impact None
Start Year 2015
 
Description Environmental Agency 
Organisation Environment Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Sampling methodology
Collaborator Contribution pathogen levels
Impact No
Start Year 2015
 
Description Public Health 
Organisation Public Health England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Discuss on pathogens
Collaborator Contribution Discussion about pathogens
Impact None
Start Year 2015
 
Description @BioAirNet1 Twitter account 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Twitter account used to share and disseminate to general public and wider audience BioAirNet activities as well as those of the sister networks @TAPAS, @BreathingCity, @CleanAir4V, @Transition_Air and associated networks @SFTC_AQN, @UKCleanAir, GCARE@AirPollSurrey and @Sheffield:Air
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://twitter.com/BioAirNet1
 
Description BioAirNet LinkedIN listed group 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Listed group on LinkedIN to share BioAirNet networks activties and other networks activities. Key targets is to reach targeted audience of industry professionals and establish authentic relationships
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9015520/
 
Description Biological particulate matter sources and dynamics across the indoor-outdoor continuum (Theme 1) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Further suggestions gained from the delegates on which topics the network would like to focus in future meetings such as
• What sort of emerging and existing air cleaning devices and technologies are suitable for different indoor-outdoor scenarios?
• What is the impact of the interaction of bioaerosols with other chemical pollutants?
• Comparison of indoor/outdoor microbial diversity (including seasonality)
• How do different indoor - outdoors factors affect sampling strategies?
• Up to what extent and how can we compare different studies in varying scenarios?
• Is there a framework/protocol for contemporaneous indoor and outdoor measurements of source-specific exposure - disentangling anthropogenic- and bio-PM to study specific health conditions?
• Development of guidelines and protocols for selecting and comparing studies from different indoor-outdoor environments
• There's a real gap in knowledge around particle size / aggregation / rafting and particle penetration into building

Who should be leading or "in the room" in future talks?

• Continue the existing approach of engaging with diverse stakeholders
• Need to focus on emerging and overlapping topics across different BioAirNet themes. The overlap of interests around sources, post-emission dynamics, measurement and exposures is emerging as the priority.
• We will arrange joint sessions with other Clean Air networks such as Breathing City: Future Urban Ventilation Network on areas of mutual interest
• The colleagues from the University of Bristol, UK and the University of Utrecht, Netherlands are happy to deliver a presentation at future events.
• Other suggested individuals we might contact include Prof Stefan Schuster (NTU) on the airborne microbiome, Prof Dudley Shallcross (Bristol) on chemistry-biology interactions of PM, Prof Cath Noakes (Leeds) on ventilation and the Breathing City network, Prof Martin Gallaher (Manchester) on the BIOARC project, Prof Paul Linden (Cambridge) on the TAPAS project and air quality in Schools, German and Dutch researchers through the CEN working group on bioaerosol measurements in ambient air.

• The link between the bioPM exposure including the microbiome and the impacts on our health
• Is indoor pollen measurement a topic of interest for research?
• Understanding of indoor-outdoor co-exposure and the accumulative effect that can have on health outcomes
• Fate, behaviour and transformation of bioaerosols ( focusing on evaporation, condensation, open-air factor)
• Modelling the emission, distribution and deposition in indoor as well as outdoor.
• Measurements of resuspension and deposition (indoors and outdoors)
• How to integrate human behaviour and human space interaction in modelling studies?
• Validation of dispersion modelling especially for process-based bioaerosols emission
• SARS-CoV-2 is driving a huge amount of research relevant to Theme 1 - we shjould look for the opportunities to identify and discuss new knowledge emerging from this.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://bioairnet.co.uk/first-thematic-workshop-bioairnet-theme-1/
 
Description Human Health, Behaviour and Wellbeing - Theme 3 workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop was focused on exploring the associations between BioPM and respiratory and neurological disorders, and the approaches that can be used to understand the biological mechanisms underlying these associations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://bioairnet.co.uk/bioairnet-workshop-theme-3/
 
Description Launch event of BioAirNet 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The online event (via Zoom) provided an overview of BioAirNet themes and activities along with presentations from a range of stakeholders from academia, industry and regulators on the topics covering air quality and BioPM health impacts, interventions and regulatory landscape. Key purpose what to get stakeholders involved with the network and explain also the benefits of being involved such as:
Monthly newsletters including network updates, details on thematic workshops, sandpit events for funding application, internship opportunities, training courses, STEM and public outreach activities and other news from the sectors
Collaborative working: Networking is all about building valuable relationships and developing new and interesting approaches of doing business or research.
Business development: finding out what is happening within the sector and providing new ideas for the future expansion of your core business/research activities
Professional development and knowledge expansion by accessing a shared knowledge base through contact with like-minded individuals and improving your chance of success for future projects and collaboration
Market opportunities and exploring new ventures and obtaining informed, genuine feedback that helps you make the right decisions.
Exchanges and short-term industrial placements to gain skills or developing collaborative research
White papers and guidance documents: contributing to decision-making for future research directions and stakeholder policy support
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://bioairnet.co.uk/bioairnet-launch-event/
 
Description Theme 2 workshop - Biological Particulate Matter Sampling and Characterisation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The thematic workshop was primarily focused on exploring the knowledge gaps along with barriers and opportunities for sampling, detection and characterisation of BioPM in different indoor-outdoor scenarios. During the interactive online session, leaders in BioPM sampling and analysis discipline and requirement from industry and regulators were sharing their views and needs, and offered diverse perspectives to facilitate the translation of advances in fundamental science into technological solutions.

We were keen to involve participants from diverse background and interest advancing our understanding of the factors that shape and support healthy natural and built environments with a key focus on BioPM.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://bioairnet.co.uk/first-thematic-bioairnet-workshop/