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Theme 4: Project 3 - Nanoparticle exposure assessment

Introduction: The public health risks associated with exposure to many engineered nanoparticles remain uncertain. Recent studies illustrating similarities between the pulmonary effects of some carbon nanotubes and asbestos, and the well-documented effects of fine particulate air pollution on cardiorespiratory health, add to these concerns. This subtheme is concerned with understanding nanoparticle exposures.

Aims: A review of nanomaterial consumer products available in the UK, which could lead to nanoparticles inhalation. On the basis of the results and consideration of the exposure potential a number of products representing various product classes (eg cleaning sprays (Ag and ZnO) and paints (TiO2)) will be purchased. These bulk products will be characterised using standard techniques (DLS, TEM, ICP-MS etc.).

Experimental systems will be set-up and protocols developed to mimic the expected airborne emissions produced using such products in various realistic exposure scenarios.

Experimental systems and protocols to sample the airborne aerosol produced in a realistic manner to reflect expected exposure patterns of members of the public will also be developed. The resulting exposures will be characterised and quantified.  

A review of available aerosol particulate exposure models, chemical, radiation etc, (and software) will start with a focus on applicability to nanoparticles, given potential differences in aerosol behaviour, lung deposition, agglomeration etc.

Lead researchers

Dr Rachel Smith

Theme 4 Deputy Leader

Public Health England

Professor Terry Tetley


Imperial College London