Toxicity of Nanomaterials

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End of May Chen et al. published an article in the Journal of Applied Toxicology dealing with the In vivo acute toxicity of titanium dioxide nanoparticles to mice after intraperitioneal injection. While it is maybe worthwhile discussing the probability that (and how !) somebody gets his suncream in his intraperitoneal (I guess, that person definetly has more serious problems than nanoscaled TiO2…), there is another article in Environmental Science & Technology (published online July, 22) entitled Differential Toxicity of Carbon Nanomaterials in Drosophila: Larval Dietary Uptake Is Benign, but Adult Exposure Causes Locomotor Impairment and Mortality.
In this article, David Rand, Robert Hurt and coworkers describe their experiments, in which they exposed fruit fly larvae and adults to various types of carbon nanomaterials. In case of the larvae, some nanomaterial was accumulated in tissues, but had no impact on the development or survival. If they exposed adult flies to carbon nanomaterial, this exposure led to the flies’ death within hours, previously impairing their mobility. SEM images of the flies show severe damage to the flies legs and feet for example. Referring to the authors, toxicity might be due to the carbon nanomaterial adheres to the flies’ eyes and – more problematic – to their breathing holes.
This result is also in line with the finding, that small aggregates (e.g. carbon black; single-walled nanotubes) show higher toxicity than than nanomaterials with larger aggregate sizes. Furthermore, the scientist were able to show that the contaminated flies are spreading the nanomaterials to ‘clean’ flies while grooming themselves.
These articles show an increasing interest in the properties of nanomaterials. Everybody who is interested in this topic as well should think about joining the 3rd EuCheMS Chemistry Congress 2010 in Nuremberg and participating in the nanoparticles symposia.

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