I started my career as a zoologist and ecotoxicologist, with a PhD thesis dealing with mechanisms of cadmium and zinc passage through the fish gill. For over 25 years I then worked as toxicologist/risk assessor/head of department at the Swedish National Food Agency, combining research and risk assessment with a focus on organohalogen contaminants and heavy metals in food and drinking water. Since 2018 I am professor in toxicology at BVF, SLU. Link to the installation presentation.
The current research focus covers 3 main areas:
· Research on human exposure to chemicals/elements in food and drinking water.
· Possible health effects of such exposure early in life.
· Surface active chemicals and intestinal barrier function.
Drinking water as a source of human exposure to highly fluorinated compounds (PFASs)
Over 100 000 chemicals are in production in the world and production will increase further in the future. Little or nothing is known about human exposure to the majority of these chemicals. Assessment of human exposure to “new chemicals” gives data that are fundamental for determining if these chemicals are health risks or not. We currently use biomonitoring, i.e. measurements of chemical concentration in human tissues, to determine human exposure to poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) and to determine the importance of drinking water exposure. We are, in collaboration with the universities in Gothenburg, Lund, Stockholm and Uppsala, the Swedish National Food Agency and the Swedish EPA, developing toxicokinetic models for estimating PFAS exposure of infants, children and adults from drinking water, with the aim to decrease the need for costly biomonitoring of PFAS in populations exposed to PFAS-contaminated drinking water. Toxicokinetic models for determining blood PFAS levels, based on for instance drinking water concentrations of PFAS and time of residence in affected households, can be an efficient and non-invasive method for exposure assessment of drinking water PFAS. The estimated blood levels can be used in risk assessment of the drinking water contamination without the need of blood sampling and chemical analyses.
Early life exposure to persistent halogenated and health effects in children/adolescents – POPUP cohort
Exposure research on persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as dioxins, PCBs, brominated flame retardants (PBDEs), and PFASs, is crucial for risk assessment of human POP exposure from food and drinking water. In collaboration with the Swedish National Food Agency we are using the POPUP cohort (Persistent Organic Pollutants in Uppsala Primiparas) to investigate temporal trends of POP levels pregnant and nursing women in Sweden, to identify sources of exposure, and to determine how diet/life style/demography/medical factors influence maternal POP levels. Since maternal POP levels are excellent markers of child POP exposure early in life, we can also investigate relations between prenatal/postnatal POP exposure and child health, including birth outcomes, child growth, thyroid function, immune system function, etc.
Combination effects of toxic chemical compounds and elements on child/adolescent
health - an integrated epidemiological and bioactivity testing approach (CETCHAA)
This project is a collaboration between SLU, the Swedish National Food Agency, and the universities in Gothenburg, Lund, Stockholm and Uppsala. The overall aim is to characterize chemical compound/element (chemical) mixture exposure of children and adolescents in Sweden, and to elucidate if these mixtures affect child/adolescent health development. The project fills an important knowledge-gap about chemical mixture exposure and possible combination effects. As pointed out in the Swedish Environmental Objective “A non-toxic Environment” the knowledge about how chemicals affect human health is still limited, and a better understanding of the hazardous properties of chemicals are needed as a scientific base for prevention of chemical risks. Our project focus on early life/childhood/adolescence mixture exposures and child/adolescent health development, since these life-stages are especially sensitive to toxic effects of chemicals. The project uses already collected data, and biobanked samples, from a nation-wide food consumption survey, Riksmaten Ungdom (RMU) 2016-17, and a mother/child cohort (POPUP), administrated by the Swedish National Food Agency. In collaboration with Johan Lundqvist at BVF, SLU, we use newly developed bioassays for important toxicity pathways to integrate epidemiological and bioassay approaches in the search for chemical combination effects threatening child/adolescent health.
Surface active chemicals and intestinal barrier function
Compromised integrity of the intestinal epithelium is a common feature of inflammatory bowel diseases and surface active substances (surfactants) are implicated in the disease etiology. Humans are exposed to a complex mixture of surfactants from food and drinking water on a daily basis, which could be an overlooked risk factor for disease. We use both in vitro and in vivo models to study how surfactants, such as fatty acids, food emulsifiers, and natural/industrial surfactants, affects the intestinal paracellular tight junction barrier and the transcellular efflux pump barrier at exposure levels relevant for Swedish consumers.
Åkesson A, Donat-Vargas C, Berglund M, Glynn A, Wolk A, Kippler M. 2019. Dietary exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and risk of heart failure – A population-based prospective cohort study. Environ Int 126, 1-6.
Gyllenhammar I, Benskin J, Sandblom O, Berger U, Ahrens L, Lignell S, Wiberg K, Glynn A. 2018. Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in serum from 2-4-month-old infants: influence of maternal serum concentration, gestational age, breast-feeding, and contaminated drinking water. Environ Sci Technol 52, 7101-7110.
Glynn A, Igra AM, Sand S, Ilbäck NG, Hellenäs KE, Rosén J, Aspenström-Fagerlund B. 2017. Are additive effects of dietary surfactants in intestinal tight junction integrity an overlooked human health risk? – A mixture study on Caco-2 monolayers. Food Chem Toxicol 106, 314-323.
Gyllenhammar I, Diderholm B, Gustafsson J, Berger U, Ridefelt P, Benskin JP, Lignell S, Lampa, E, Glynn A. 2017. Perfluoroalkyl acid levels in first-time mothers in relation to offspring weight gain and growth. Environ Int 111, 191-199.
Gyllenhammar I, Glynn A, Jönsson BAG, Lindh CH, Darnerud PO, Svensson K, Lignell S. 2017. Diverging temporal trends of human exposure to bisphenols and plastizisers, such as phthalates, caused by substitution of legacy EDCs? Environ Res 153, 48-54