Ubiquitous engineered nanomaterials cause lung inflammation, study finds

May 6, 2013

A consortium of scientists from across the country has found that breathing ultrafine particles from a large family of materials that increasingly are found in a host of household and commercial products, from sunscreens to the ink in copy machines to super-strong but lightweight sporting equipment, can cause lung inflammation and damage.

The research on two of the most common types of engineered nanomaterials is published online today in Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute of (NIEHS). It is the first multi-institutional study examining the health effects of engineering nanomaterials to replicate and compare findings from different labs across the country.

The study is critical, the researchers said, because of the large quantities of nanomaterials being used in industry, electronics and medicine. Earlier studies had found when nanomaterials are taken into the lungs they can cause inflammation and fibrosis. The unique contribution of the current study is that all members of the consortium were able to show similar findings when similiar concentrations of the materials were introduced into the . The findings should provide guidance for creating policy for the safe development of nanotechnology.

"This research provides further confirmation that nanomaterials have the potential to cause inflammation and injury to the lungs. Although small amounts of these materials in the lungs do not appear to produce injury, we still must remain vigilant in using care in the diverse applications of these materials in consumer products and foods," said Kent Pinkerton, a study senior author and the director of the UC Davis Center for Health and the Environment."

Used for their ability to confer strength and flexibility because of their tubular and spherical structures, the ubiquitous and highly malleable materials may be composed of everything from carbon to gold. The current study examined the health effects of inhaling two types of nanomaterials, those made from forms of titanium dioxide and those made from multi-walled carbon nanotubes, a substance with a tensile strength 100 times stronger than steel.

The study was conducted as part of the NIEHS NanoGo Consortium, which includes researchers at North Carolina State University, UC Davis, East Carolina University, the Laboratory of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the University of Rochester, the University of Washington and the Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology.

The primary concern for exposure to nanomaterials is by inhalation, although dermal, eye and ingestion exposures also may occur during the manufacture and commercial application of these materials in a wide variety of products. The researchers examined responses of the lungs to made from three forms of titanium dioxide and three forms of multi-walled carbon nanotubes in a mouse model.

Explore further: EPA announces research strategy to study nanomaterials

Related Stories

EPA announces research strategy to study nanomaterials

September 29, 2009

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today outlined a new research strategy to better understand how manufactured nanomaterials may harm human health and the environment. Nanomaterials are materials that are between approximately ...

Where do nanomaterials go in the body?

November 2, 2009

Tiny, engineered nanomaterials can already be found in many consumer products, and have been hailed as having widespread future uses in areas ranging from medicine to industrial processes. However, little is known about what ...

Small materials poised for big impact in construction

November 3, 2010

Bricks, blocks, and steel I-beams -- step aside. A new genre of construction materials, made from stuff barely 1/50,000th the width of a human hair, is about to debut in the building of homes, offices, bridges, and other ...

Nanomaterials in our environment

December 15, 2010

The manufacturing of nanomaterials has been steadily on the rise in the medical, industrial, and scientific fields. Nanomaterials are materials that are engineered to have dimensions less than 100 nanometers and have very ...

Titanate cigarette filter could be safer

May 4, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- While current cigarettes are made with a filter created from cellulose acetate which absorbs things like nicotine, tar, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Chinese researchers have discovered that nanomaterials ...

Recommended for you

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity

July 28, 2015

When it comes to installing solar cells, labor cost and the cost of the land to house them constitute the bulk of the expense. The solar cells—made often of silicon or cadmium telluride—rarely cost more than 20 percent ...

Could stronger, tougher paper replace metal?

July 24, 2015

Researchers at the University of Maryland recently discovered that paper made of cellulose fibers is tougher and stronger the smaller the fibers get. For a long time, engineers have sought a material that is both strong (resistant ...

Changing the color of light

July 23, 2015

Researchers at the University of Delaware have received a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to explore a new idea that could improve solar cells, medical imaging and even cancer treatments. Simply put, they want ...

Wafer-thin material heralds future of wearable technology

July 27, 2015

UOW's Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials (ISEM) has successfully pioneered a way to construct a flexible, foldable and lightweight energy storage device that provides the building blocks for next-generation ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.