The Network of Excellence in Aerosols and Health connects researchers from the Faculties of Medicine, Engineering and Natural Sciences working on aerosols and health to enhance research capacity and enable collaboration.
What are aerosols?
Aerosols are liquid droplets or solids particles dispersed in a gas with sizes ranging from molecular clusters (>1 nm) to large droplets (>100 μm). Examples include smoke, fog, pollution particles from vehicles and droplets exhaled when we breathe, cough or sneeze. Particle sizes can range from the nanometre (a millionth of a millimetre) to the millimetre scale. Aerosols influence health, visibility, and global climate and find technological application in the delivery of drugs to the lungs, the engineering of nanostructures through spray drying, and the delivery of fuels for combustion. Aerosol science is core to a broad range of disciplines including inhaled drug delivery to the lungs, aerosolised disease transmission, the manufacture of new materials, combustion, environmental science, and the delivery of consumer and agricultural products.
Why are aerosols relevant to health?
The NHS spends ~£5B/year treating lung diseases using inhaled therapeutic aerosols (e.g. inhalers); poor air quality due to environmental pollutant aerosols costs the UK £20B/year and causes 30,000-40,000 premature deaths annually. There is strong evidence that inhalation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in aerosols represents a significant transmission route for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Why a network?
Aerosols are one of the largest uncertainties in our understanding of the most important global grand challenges, including disease transmission (COVID-19), public health, climate change and therapeutics. Solving these problems requires multidisciplinary teams. The fundamental concepts in aerosol science are applicable across a broad range of applications and this network will enable cross-fertilisation of ideas, techniques and solutions.
What if I work on aerosols but not directly related to health?
Our network is inclusive to researchers working on aspects of aerosol science not primarily related to human health, including atmospheric aerosols, basic aerosol processes, and measurement techniques to promote knowledge transfer. We hope to facilitate connections that between researchers working in different fields, so it is not necessary for all members to be working directly on health topics.