Oceans and seas contribute significantly to our health and wellbeing. This research project focuses on sea spray aerosols (SSA) and aims to understand how they affect human health. Primary SSA, formed by bubbles bursting from breaking waves, is together with mineral dust, the largest contributor to the total global aerosol mass. SSA can significantly impact human health as it can contain high concentrations of marine biogenic molecules. For example, aerosolized algal toxins have been reported to lead to respiratory symptoms during harmful algal blooms. At the same time, it has been suggested that low concentrations of marine biogenic molecules may lead to beneficial health effects. Taken together, this suggests dose-dependent health effects of SSA.
The current project hypothesizes that marine biogenics and microorganisms in SSA contribute to human health in a dose-dependent manner leading to benefits at low concentrations and risks at high concentrations. To test this hypothesis, the effects of biogenics and microorganisms in SSA on human health will be studied in vitro using human cell lines and RNA sequencing. The results will provide the first insights on the molecular mechanisms of SSA effects on human health and identify potential molecules for bio-discovery. The results of the project will move the Oceans & Human Health research beyond the current state-of-the-art and reshape how we think about oceans as contributors to Human Health.