The influence of the environment on black carbon in placental tissue

For years the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey and the Centre for Environmental Sciences are collaborating. Studies show that good air quality is beneficial for the unborn child and may also affect health later in life. We want to investigate the residential environment during pregnancy, especially traffic exposure at the residence, in association with the internal black carbon load in placental tissue and the underlying mechanisms involved.

How will the study proceed?

We ask the participants to complete a short questionnaire. This will take a maximum of 5 minutes. We will ask about the smoking status and the location of residence during pregnancy. Based on residential history we can determine if the twins grew up in a green environment or an environment with a lot of traffic exposure. Of course, all the responses and contract detail provided will be kept confidential.

How do we measure black carbon particles?

Besides the questionnaire, we will do an additional investigation of the collected placental samples. With a new technique developed at Hasselt University, we can assess black carbon load in a label-free and biocompatible manner. This recently developed technique is based on the white light generation of carbonaceous particles under femtosecond pulsed laser illumination to detect the presence and location of black carbon particles in the human placenta.

Who can participate?

We are looking for 250 mothers, of twins born between 1970 and 2020, who wants to participate. Participation is voluntary and the mother is free to withdraw at any time.


  • Dr. Esmée Bijnens

+32 477 23 68 81