First Work Place Injury from nanoparticles

A 26-year-old female chemist formulated polymers and coatings usually using silver ink particles. When she later began working with nickel nanoparticle powder weighed out and handled on a lab bench with no protective measures, she developed throat irritation, nasal congestion, “post nasal drip,” facial flushing, and new skin reactions to her earrings and belt buckle which were temporally related to working with the nanoparticles. Subsequently she was found to have a positive reaction to nickel on the T.R.U.E. patch test, and a normal range FEV1 that increased by 16% post bronchodilator. It was difficult returning her to work even in other parts of the building due to recurrence of symptoms. This incident triggered the company to make plans for better control measures for working with nickel nanoparticles. In conclusion, a worker developed nickel sensitization when working with nanoparticle nickel powder in a setting without any special respiratory protection or control measures.

Micron sized particles of Nickel are also deemed to harmful. So having problems at the nano scale seems to be not surprising.

Using population-weighted annual exposure of 7.3 nanograms per cubic meter for the 20.3 million people represented by the toxic air contaminant network, the DHS (Department of human services) staff estimates the excess carcinogenic risk from a lifetime exposure to be from 1.4 to 27 cancer cases per million. Assuming California’s population of 30 million, an excess of 42 to 810 potential respiratory cancer cases might result from 70 years of exposure to the population-weighted annual exposure calculated for California.

Using the DHS best value and population-weighted exposure of 7.3 nanograms per cubic meter, the DHS staff estimates the excess carcinogenic risk from a lifetime exposure is 2 excess cancer cases per million and, assuming a population of 30 million people, 60 excess cancer cases statewide. Hot spot exposures near fuel combustion facilities are likely to be about 10 times above the statewide average. The Air Toxics Hot Spots program is expected to provide further assessments of these potential elevated near source exposures.

Micron sized metal particles can also increase allergic reactions and cause allergic reactions

Particulate air pollution may influence both the sensitization and provocation phases of allergy. Particles may increase allergic sensitization through their adjuvant effect on IgE synthesis, whereas the provocation phase may be influenced by particle-induced oxidative and inflammatory reactions in the respiratory mucosa. Although there is an abundance of epidemiological evidence for the aggravation of allergic airway disorders by particulate air pollution (Norris et al., 1999; reviewed in Pope, 2000; Timonen and Pekkanen, 1997; van der Zee et al., 1999), the notion that particulate air pollution increases the induction of allergic immune responses rest mainly on evidence from experimental laboratory studies.

Goat Guy Comment (H/T for the link)

As a refresher, it is not asbestos fibers that are carcinogenic, but the tips of the fibers. They are small enough and sharp enough (and non-soluble enough) to pierce cell walls and allow all nature of mixing of various parts of cells together. The natural immune response cannot attack the tips. Without an ability to turn OFF cell replication (which is attempting to repair piercing damage), mesothelioma may result, along with others.

Now, we’re making thousands of kilograms of nanoparticles as small, or smaller than asbestos tips, and many are just as immune to redox biological decomposition.

The “tip of the iceberg”?

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