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Z Med Phys. 2015 Jun;25(2):135-45. doi: 10.1016/j.zemedi.2014.08.002. Epub 2014 Sep 22.

Nanotubes in the human respiratory tract - Deposition modeling.

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Brunnleitenweg 41, A-5061 Elsbethen, Salzburg, Austria. Electronic address:


Deposition of inhaled single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) and multi-wall carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) in the respiratory tract was theoretically investigated for various age groups (infants, children, adolescents, and adults). Additionally, possible effects of the inhalative flow rate on nanotube deposition were simulated for adult lungs. Theoretical computations were based on the aerodynamic diameter concept and the assumption of particles being randomly transported through a stochastic (close-to-realistic) lung structure. Deposition of nanotubes was calculated by application of well validated empirical deposition formulae, thereby considering Browian motion, inertial impaction, interception, and sedimentation as main deposition mechanisms acting on the particles. Results of the simulations clearly show that for a given inhalation scenario (sitting breathing) total, bronchial, and acinar nanotube deposition increase with subject's age, whereas extrathoracic deposition is characterized by a decrease from younger to older subjects. According to the data provided by the model, MWCNT, whose aerodynamic diameters exceed those of SWCNT by one order of magnitude, are deposited in specific respiratory compartments to a lower extent than SWCNT. A change of the physical state from sitting to heavy work results in a common decline of bronchial and extrathoracic deposition of nanotubes. Total deposition is slightly increased for SWCNT and moderately decreased for MWCNT, whereas acinar deposition is significantly increased for SWCNT and decreased for MWCNT. Based on the results of this contribution it may be concluded that SWCNT bear a higher potential as health hazards than MWCNT, because they are accumulated in sensitive lung regions with higher doses than MWCNT.


Carbon nanotube; Depositionsmodell; Kohlenstoff-Nanoröhrchen; Lunge; aerodynamic diameter; aerodynamischer Durchmesser; deposition model; lung

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