Chemistry and Toxicology of Atmospheric Emissions Team (CTEA)

Research area:

 Our research focuses on the evaluation of the exposure level to airborne particles (PM10, PM2,5, ultra-fines) and the study of toxic effects in humans, particularly upon the respiratory system.


Our approach consists in performing airborne particles sampling, its physico-chemical characterization and toxicity assessment using experimental models (in vitro, ex vivo, in vivo) or from studies in humans. This investigation relates to study the underlying physiopathological mechanisms frequently involved in respiratory diseases, with aim at finding out biomarkers associated to effect or exposure to atmospheric pollution. This approach is accordingly based on two main lines:

Physico-chemistry of airborne particles (PM10, PM2,5, ultra fines) and source identification

Sampling airborne particles is performed in urban and/or rural areas, under different natural and anthropogenic influences as road traffic or industrial activities. Focusing on chemical features (water soluble ions, major and trace elements, organic compounds) of particles aims to identify and/or propose source tracers. The latter allows a better determination of particle origin for a given studied site. In addition, source-receptor model are used for source separation and the evaluation of their relative contribution to PM concentration.

Mechanisms of toxic action of xenobiotics

Based on experimental toxicology, our contribution aims to improve the knowledge of cellular homeostasis alterations induced by the exposure to atmospheric pollutants. It includes the study of several parameters as oxidative stress, inflammatory response, metabolic activation of xenobiotics, genotoxicity and epigenetic modifications. Toxicity assessments are performed considering lung cells (A459, BEAS-2B, alveolar macrophages) in mono- and co-culture in order to better integrate cell diversity of the pulmonary system. Studying toxicity mechanisms allows both a proposition and a validation of exposure biomarkers involved in the early steps of cancer induced by atmospheric pollutants. To that end, two approaches are currently developed: the setting-up of a metabolomic analysis platform and the development of studies on the role of extracellular vesicles secreted by lung cells exposed to xenobiotics.

Chemistry and Toxicology of Atmospheric Emissions team members :

BILLET Sylvain




COURCOT Dominique






LEDOUX Frédéric


MARTIN Perrine



Tech Contractuel

VERDIN Anthony



Post-Doc :

BORGIE Mireille


Collaborations :

 Nationals :

  • Unité Aliment Bioprocédés Toxicologie Environnements, ABTE, EA 4651, Equipe « Toxicologie de l’Environnement : milieux aériens et cancers, ToxEMAC », Université de Caen Basse Normandie, Université de Rouen
  • Groupement des Hôpitaux de l’Institut Catholique de Lille, GHICL, Service de Pneumologie, Service de Médecine et Gériatrie
  • Laboratoire Impact de l’Environnement Chimique sur la Santé Humaine, Impecs, EA 4483, Université de Lille
  • Laboratoire Lésions des Acides Nucléiques, Service de Chimie Inorganique et Biologique, UMR E3 – CEA / Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble
  • Institut de Recherches en Santé-Environnement-Travail – IRSET – UMR Inserm 1085, Faculté des Sciences pharmaceutiques et biologiques de Rennes, Université de Rennes
  • Institut National de l’Environnement Industriel et des Risques, INERIS, Verneuil en Halatte
  • Laboratoire Génie Civil et géoEnvironnement, LGCgE, EA 4515, groupe ISA de l’Université Catholique de Lille
  • Ecole des Mines de Douai, Département Sciences de l’Atmosphère Génie de l’Environnement, SAGE, Douai
  • Laboratoire de Santé Publique et Environnement, EA 4064 « Impacts sanitaires des pollutions », Université Paris Descartes

 Internationals :

  •  Departemento de Ingenierias Quimica y Biomolecular, Universidad de Cantabria, Santander, Espagne.
  • Faculté de Médecine, Université de Cagliari, Italie.
  • Bioactive Molecules Research Group, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Faculty of Sciences-2, Lebanese University, Liban.
  • Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Balamand, Liban.
  • King’s College London, Environmental Research Group, Royaume-Uni.
  • Equipe  » Thermodynamique et Génie des Procédés Chimiques « , Département Chimie, Faculté Polytechnique de l’Université de Mons, Belgique.
  • Laboratoire de Toxicologie, Faculté de Médecine Pharmacologie Odontologie, Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar, Sénégal.
  • Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Department of Chemical and Radiation, Norway



Thesis students :


First name    Name



Margueritta Al Zallouha


Investigation of cancer biomarkers of atmospheric particulate pollution in urban area. Effect of the age

Imad El Alam



Characterization of soil pollution, toxicity, ecotoxicity and phytoremediation assays using mycorrhizae

Carole Tanios


Characterization, toxicity evaluation of biogas from household waste and recycling by catalytic reforming

Amélie Héliot


The extracellular vesicles as new air pollution toxicity biomarkers

Awa Ndong


Outdoor and indoor air pollution and non-communicable diseases in Dakar

Méausoone Clémence


Impact on human health of air pollutants: assessment of the toxicity of emissions from catalytic oxidation of industrial VOCs

Badran Ghidaa


Toxic Effects of PM2.5 Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) on bronchial epithelial cells

Current projects :

  • VESITOX project « Les vésicules extracellulaires comme nouveaux biomarqueurs potentiels de toxicité des polluants environnementaux » (2015-2018) – APR Environnement-Santé de l’ANSES, financé par l’INSERM et l’Aviesan
  • SENETOX project «Atmospheric particulate pollution in urban area: cancer biomarkers depending on the age» (2014-2017) – Research Project “ Health, Environment, Society” – funded by the Nord-Pas-de- Calais Region
  • PEPPAZU Project «Perceived pressure and assessment of pesticides in suburban area» (2014-2017) – funded by the Nord-Pas-de- Calais Region
  • PACATOX Project « Biomarkers of air pollution particulate matter toxicity influenced by age » (2015-2017) – funded by ADEME
  • Project « Extracellular vesicles as new toxicity biomarkers of environmental pollution » (2015-2017) – Research Project “Health, Environment, Society” funded by the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Region
  • Project «Manganese in urban air: levels, physicochemical characterization and modelling with dispersion models», Plan Estatal de Investigacion Cientifica y Técnica y de Innovacion (2014-2016), Espagne, Project leader : Universidad de Cantabria
  • Project Interreg V France Wallonie Flandres «DepollutAir: Innovative coupling of techniques for the treatment of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): new ways to improve air quality »
  • TRIPLER project : « Impact of PM2.5 varying according to their source (road traffic, Iindustries) on respiratory health. Approach in vitro « (2016-2019) – APR Environment-Health of ANSES


Recent publications :

  • Santos G., Irabien A., Fernández-Olmo I., Ledoux F., Courcot D. Estimating airborne heavy metal concentrations in Dunkerque (Northern France). Arabian Journal of Geosciences, 2016, DOI: 10.1007/s12517-015-2225-5.
  • Kfoury A., Ledoux F., Roche C., Delmaire G., Roussel G., Courcot D. PM2.5 source apportionment in a French urban coastal site under steelworks emission influences using Constrained Non-Negative Matrix Factorization receptor model. Journal of Environmental Sciences, 2016, 40, 114-128.
  • I. Abbas, A. Verdin, F. Escande, F. Saint-Georges, F. Cazier, P. Mulliez, D. Courcot, P. Shirali, P. Gosset, G. Garçon. In vitro short-term exposure to air pollution PM2.5-0.3 induced cell cycle alterations and genetic instability in a human lung cell coculture model. Environmental Research, 2016, 147, 146-158.
  • Cazier F., Genevray P., Dewaele D., Nouali H., Verdin A., Ledoux F., Hachimi A., Billet S., Bouhsina S., Shirali P., Garçon G., Courcot D. Characterization and seasonal variations of particles in the atmosphere of rural, urban and industrial areas: organic compounds. Journal of Environmental Sciences, 2016, doi:10.1016/j.jes.2016.01.014
  • G. Bidar, C. Waterlot, N. Proix, A. Verdin, D. Courcot, S. Détriché, H. Fourrier, A. Richard, F. Douay. Sustainability of an in situ aided phytostabilisation on highly contaminated soils using fly ashes: Effects on the vertical distribution of physicochemical parameters and trace elements. Journal of Environmental Management, 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.01.029
  • Borgie M, Dagher Z, Ledoux F, Verdin A, Cazier F, Martin P, Hachimi A, Shirali P, Greige-Gerges H, Courcot D. Comparison between ultrafine and fine particulate matter collected in Lebanon: Chemical characterization, in vitro cytotoxic effects and metabolizing enzymes gene expression in human bronchial epithelial cells. Environ Pollut. 2015, 205, 250-60.
  • Fougère B., Vellas B, Billet S, Martin PJ, Gallucci M, Cesari M. Air Pollution modifies the association between successful and pathological aging throughout the frailty condition. Ageing Res Rev. 2015, 24(Pt B), 299-303.
  • Borgie M., Ledoux F., Verdin A., Cazier F., Greige H., Shirali P., Courcot D., Dagher Z., Genotoxic and epigenotoxic effects of fine particulate matter from rural and urban sites in Lebanon on human bronchial epithelial cells. Environ. Res., 2015, 136, 352-362.
  • Martin P.J., Haren, N., Clabaut A., Ghali O., Chauveau C., Broux O., Hardouin P. Adipogenic RNAs are transferred in osteoblasts via bone marrow adipocytes-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs). BMC Cell Biol. 2015.
  • Dergham M., Lepers C., Verdin A., Cazier F., Billet S., Courcot D., Shirali P., Garçon G. Temporal-spatial variations of the physicochemical characteristics of air pollution Particulate Matter (PM2.5-0.3) and toxicological effects in human bronchial epithelial cells (BEAS-2B). Environmental Research, 2015, 137, 256-267.
  • Brunet J., Genty E., Landkocz Y., Al Zallouha M., Billet S., Courcot D., Siffert S., Thomas D., De Weireld G., Cousin R. Identification of by-products issued from the catalytic oxidation of toluene by chemical and biological methods. C. R. Chim, 2015, 18, 1084-1093.
  • Firmin S., Labidi S., Fontaine J., Laruelle F., Tisserant B., Dalpé Y., Grandmougin A., Douay F., Shirali P., Verdin A., Lounes-Hadj Sahraoui A. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal inoculation protects Miscanthus  giganteus against trace element toxicity in a highly metal contaminated site. Sc. Tot. Env., 2015, 527-528: 91-99.
  • Cabral M., Touré A., Garçon G., Diop C., Bouhsina S., Dewaele D., Cazier F., Courcot D., Tall Dia A., Shirali P., Diouf A., Fall M., Verdin A., Effects of environmental cadmium and lead exposure on adults neighboring a landfill: evidences of adverse health effects. Environ. Poll., 2015, 206: 247-255.
  • R. Mrad, A. Aissat, R. Cousin, D. Courcot, St. Siffert. Catalysts for NOx selective catalytic reduction by hydrocarbons (HC-SCR). Applied Catalysis A: General , 2015, 504, 542-548.
  • Drihai S., Verdin A., Laruelle F., Beddiar A., Lounes-Hadj Sahraoui A., Is the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Rhizophagus irregularis able to fulfil its life cycle in the presence of diesel pollution? Int. Biodet. Biodeg., 2015, 105: 58-65.
  • Lepers C., André V., Dergham M., Billet S., Verdin A., Garçon G., Dewaele D., Cazier F., Sichel F., Shirali P.  Xenobiotic metabolism induction and bulky DNA adducts generated by particulate matter pollution in BEAS-2B cell line: geographical and seasonal influence. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 2014, 34(6), 703-713.
  • Borgie, M., Garat, A., Cazier, F., Delbende, A., Allorge, D., Ledoux, F., Courcot, D., Shirali, P., Dagher, Z.  Traffic-related air pollution. A pilot exposure assessment in Beirut, Lebanon – Chemosphere, 2014, 96:122-128
  • Cachon B., Firmin S., Verdin A., Ayi-Fanou L., Billet S., Cazier F., Martin P., Aissi F., Courcot D., Sanni A., Shirali P. Proinflammatory effects and oxidative stress within human bronchial epithelial cells exposed to atmospheric particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM>2.5) collected from Cotonou, Bénin. Environmental Pollution, 2014, 185, 340-351.
  • Limem A., Delmaire G., Puigt M., Roussel G., Courcot D.  Non-negative Matrix Factorization under equality constraints—a study of industrial source identification – Applied Numerical Mathematics, 2014, 85, 1-15.
  • Djabri, L., Ghrieb, L., Guezgouz, N., Hani, A., Bouhsina, S.  Impacts of morphological factors on the marine intrusion in Annaba region (east of Algeria) – Desalination and Water Treatment, 2014, 52, 2151-2156.
  • Lepers C., Dergham M., Armand L., Billet S., Verdin A., André V., Pottier D., Courcot D., Shirali P., Sichel F., Mutagenicity and clastogenicity of native airborne particulate matter samples collected under industrial, urban or rural influence. Toxicology in vitro, 2014, 28(5) 866-874.