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Environment and health

Both humans and ecosystems are affected by various types of pollution in air, water and food. NILU conducts research and offers research-based insights both on how we are exposed to contaminants in our daily life, and on what effects such exposure may have.

The aim of this research is to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of how different types of pollutants affect the environment and health.

Environmental exposure and public health

To obtain better knowledge about the effects of air pollution on health, environment and materials, we need new and better methods for calculating exposure to pollution in the air and the environment.

One of the main objectives of NILU’s research is to provide important new knowledge about individuals’ exposure in outdoor and indoor environments. Our scientists are constantly working to improve our understanding of the toxic effects of airborne particles, and the relationships between the chemical composition of the particles, their size and morphology. This insight also contributes to increased knowledge about how air pollutants affect materials in general, and cultural heritage artefacts in particular.

In cooperation with research groups within such fields as epidemiology, we leverage our expertise on air quality parameters and exposure to pollutants, applying it to health records and surveys of lifestyle and population, to gain in-depth insights into how air pollution affects health and the environment.

Health effects of pollution in the form of nanoparticles and environmental contaminants

Linking internationally recognised in vitro effect methods with exposure data will increase our insight into the harmful properties of synthetic chemicals in consumer products.

At NILU, we are constantly working to refine our experimental cell line methods and inhalation model to test the toxicity of various nanoparticles and new pollutants to humans. We aim to be at the research forefront in the fields of safe-by-design and nano-safety; such research has a direct impact on industrial manufacturing practices and thus also on the protection of health and the environment.

NILU’s scientists have contributed and continue to contribute new knowledge that helps form the basis for national and international conventions and legislation.


Pollution of air, water and food poses a serious threat to the health of present and future generations, the environment and our food supply.

NILU collaborates with various partners to quantify and weigh health effects based on exposure estimates, and provide a balanced overall picture of the potential health risk associated with various types of pollution. In this work, we use our well-established infrastructure – laboratories, databases, models and sensors/apps – to provide the data required to illuminate both exposure to and effects of pollution.