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Inhal Toxicol. 2011 Mar;23(4):226-36. doi: 10.3109/08958378.2011.562567.

Exposure assessment of workplaces manufacturing nanosized TiO2 and silver.

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  • 1Hoseo University, Asan, Republic of Korea.


With the increased production and widespread use of nanomaterials, human and environmental exposure to nanomaterials is inevitably increasing. Therefore, this study monitored the possible exposure to nanoparticles at workplaces that manufacture nano-TiO(2) and nano-silver. To estimate the potential exposure of workers, personal sampling, area monitoring, and real-time monitoring using a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) and dust monitor were conducted at workplaces where the workers handle nanomaterials. The gravimetric concentrations of TiO(2) ranged from 0.10 to 4.99 mg/m(3), which were lower than the occupational exposure limit 10 mg/m(3) set by the Korean Ministry of Labor or American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). Meanwhile, the silver metal concentrations ranged from 0.00002 to 0.00118 mg/m(3), which were also lower than the silver dust 0.1 mg/m(3) and silver soluble compound 0.01 mg/m(3) occupational exposure limits set by the ACGIH. The particle number concentrations at the nano-TiO(2) manufacturing workplaces ranged from 11,418 to 45,889 particles/cm(3) with a size range of 15-710.5 nm during the reaction, although the concentration decreased to 14,000 particles/cm(3) when the reaction was stopped. The particle concentrations at the TiO(2) manufacturing workplaces increased during the reactor and vacuum pump operations, and during the collection of the synthesized TiO(2) particles. Similarly, the particle concentrations at the silver nanoparticle manufacturing workplaces increased when the sodium citrates were weighed or reacted with the silver nitrates, and during the cleaning of the workplace. The number of silver nanoparticles in the samples obtained from the workplace manufacturing silver nanoparticles using induced coupled plasma ranged from 57,789 to 2,373,309 particles/cm(3) inside the reactor with an average size of 20-30 nm and 535-25,022 particles/cm(3) with a wide range of particle sizes due to agglomeration or aggregation after the release of nanoparticles into the workplace air. In contrast, the silver nanoparticles manufactured by the wet method ranged from 393 to 3526 particle/cm(3) with an average size of 50 nm. Thus, when taken together, the TiO(2) and silver nanoparticle concentrations were relatively lower than existing occupational exposure limits.

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