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November 2, 2010

NIOSH Posts Impact Sheet Stating that Breathing Nanoparticles May Result in Damaging Health Effects

Lynn L. Bergeson

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has posted an October 2010 Impact Sheet entitled “NIOSH Research Methods Demonstrate that Breathing Nanoparticles May Result in Damaging Health Effects,” which reports the results of recently published research concerning the health effects of inhaling single-walled carbon nanotubes. According to the Impact Sheet, NIOSH scientists invented a way to suspend nanotubes in air, thus allowing for control of the concentration of particles, unlike previous studies, which dosed the mice through aspiration. NIOSH scientists placed the mice into a controlled environment where they would breathe the air containing the particles, and studied the effects of exposure after one, seven, and 28 days.  The Impact Sheet states that, although the effects were similar, the new results “demonstrated that carbon nanotubes were more potent when inhaled than when aspirated.”  According to NIOSH, “this research has shown early indications of serious health outcomes that may have longer term effects such as cancer, and therefore, ongoing research is important to more clearly understand the implications of exposure to carbon nanotubes.  This study and continued NIOSH research could soon help the development of occupational safety and health recommendations for carbon nanotubes that will protect the health of nanotechnology workers.”