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Inhal Toxicol. 2009 Jul;21 Suppl 1:144-57. doi: 10.1080/08958370902942541.

Carcinogenicity of inhaled nanoparticles.

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Advisory Office for Risk Assessment, Dortmund, Germany.


Large epidemiological studies in the United States have shown a statistical association between air concentration of the fine dust fraction PM(2.5) in the general environment and increased risk of lung cancer. A quantitative risk assessment for lung cancer based on these studies corresponds to risk estimates based on studies at workplaces with exposure to diesel engine emissions; its magnitude cannot be explained by the known carcinogenicity of organic substances or metals adsorbed to the insoluble particle core. Carcinogenic effects of diesel particles were observed after inhalation in rats independently in several studies. The surprisingly strong effect of diesel particles was partially attributed to their small size. This hypothesis was corroborated by inhalation studies with synthetic nanoparticles virtually free of organic compounds. IARC found sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity of carbon black and of titanium dioxide in experimental animals. Long-term studies by the method of intratracheal instillation confirmed the carcinogenic effects in rats for an even broader spectrum of synthetic nanoparticles. Non-positive studies with hamsters are not valid because hamsters did not develop lung tumors after inhalation of some known human carcinogens. In recent years, the number of publications reporting in vitro genotoxicity of TiO(2) and of carbon black nanomaterials has increased. Overall, there is clear positive evidence for carcinogenicity in rats, together with supporting evidence from human data of structurally related substances. Therefore, the European Union (EU) criteria for category 2 of carcinogenic substances appear to be fulfilled for bio-durable nanoparticles consisting of matter without known significant specific toxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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