Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

NANOSH — Result In Brief

Project ID: 32777
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Finland

Nanoparticle safety in the workplace

A recent investigation into the effects of exposure to the most widely used nanoparticles (NPs) has been conducted with EU funding. The results are being collated and analysed to provide a basis for regulations that could avoid potential health-related problems, primarily in the workplace.
Nanoparticle safety in the workplace
Use of nanotechnology is expanding meteorically and providing all fields of industry with innovative solutions. However, on account of their size, between 1 and 100 nanometres (nm), they are able to pass into cells through membranes. Furthermore, their high surface area to volume ratio can confer a catalytic role.

The health effects of NPs are largely unknown and the ′Inflammatory and genotoxic effects of engineered nanomaterials′ (Nanosh) project aimed to focus on the effects of occupational exposure, a key area of concern. The health effects under scrutiny included harmful genetic changes, pulmonary inflammation and effects on the vascular system.

Nanosh researchers developed models for NP characterisation, important for the investigation and recording of results. The range of particles are all in common use and include carbon nanotubes, fullerenes, metal particles, metal oxide particles and quantum dots. A number of these have consequently been selected for inclusion in the Nano Atlas of Europe database.

A strategy for assessing extent of exposure to NPs together with decision logic as to whether a worker was likely to be exposed to environmental nanopollutants (ENPs) was developed. Nanosh also put together an open access database specifically for workplace data.

Genotoxicity tests revealed that titanium dioxide caused oxidative damage to DNA while mesothelial cells were more sensitive to DNA change than bronchial epithelial cells. Immune activation tests for five nanomaterials suggested that on repeated airway exposure to titanium dioxide, inflammation could be modulated and was dependent on the allergic status of the mice.

One crucial conclusion is that the level of lung inflammation also appears to be associated with the nature of the surface chemistry. Nanosh scientists have therefore stressed the importance of risk assessment to include modifications to the outer coat that appears to affect their fate as well as their biological activity in vivo and in vitro.

Nanosh research has added to the foundation for a reliable assessment of safety of NPs common in the workplace. Assuring the safety of NPs is crucial to the successful promotion and expansion of nanotechnology industries.

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