NANOSH - Inflammatory and genotoxic effects of engineered nanomaterials

Project No. IFA 3112


completed 10/2009


The rapidly developing field of nanotechnologies presents many opportunities and benefits for new materials with significantly improved properties as well as revolutionary applications in the fields of energy, environment, medicine, etc. According to the European Commission "the industrial production and use of nanoparticles will be the driving force for the emerging new materials industry of the 21st century. This new industry can only develop dynamically if the potential impact of these new materials on human health and the environment is satisfactorily treated."

As there is only few and alarming knowledge on the health impact of nanoparticles, the social occupational accident insurances are looking for an appropriate risk management and especially into the exposure of workers to nanoparticles. As these problems cannot be solved alone, IFA contributed to the European project NANOSH that also covered the question of exposure.


The task of IFA was the characterisation of airborne nanoparticles and the measurement of exposure to nanoparticles at laboratory and industrial workplaces. Particles of interest were carbon nanotubes, titanium dioxide, and silicon dioxide. IFA investigated the particle size distribution, surface area and mass concentrations, further partners the agglomeration properties, dissolution and surface activity. A distinction to ubiquous ultrafine particles was investigated.

Other partners should determine genotoxic effects by nanoparticle-induced oxidative DNA damage in lung cells (in vitro and in vivo), by nanoparticle-induced DNA strand breakage in pulmonary cells (in vitro and in vivo), and by induced chromosomal damage in pulmonary cells (in vitro and in vivo).

Pulmonary inflammation effects were studied as direct effects in vivo, as modulatory effects on the development of allergic asthma in vivo, and as responses in pulmonary cells in vitro.

Effects of nanoparticles on microcirculation were investigated as microvascular thrombus formation in vitro, as potential prothrombic and proinflammatory effects in the microvasculature of healthy mice, and their roles in consequences of post-ischemic injury.


During the project activities IFA could perform six measurement campaigns at nanomaterial manufacturers and processing companies. Together with three other project partners 19 measurement campaigns came up in the fields of research, manufacturing and processing. Hereby data of 150 single workplaces for nanoparticle concentrations in air were collected.
A measurement strategy for the distinction of ubiquitous ultrafine particles was developed and applied. It comprises the determination of particle concentrations during activities with nanomaterials, activities and other activities without nanomaterials. The data gathered were evaluated statistically, and together with electron microscopic analysis of sampled aerosols a probability of exposure against nanoparticles were derived. The anonymised data were collected in a database and shall be accessible in the future.

Last Update:

30 Jan 2013


Financed by:
  • Europäische Union - Generaldirektion Forschung
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)
  • Centralny Instytut Ochrony Pracy (CIOP)
  • Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics (CMPG)
  • Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH)
  • Health and Safety Laboratories (HSL)
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU)
  • TNO

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

dangerous substances


Exposition, Messverfahren, Neue Technologien

Description, key words:

Nanoparticles, particle and exposure characterization, genotoxicity of nanoparticles, pulmonary inflammation induced by nanoparticles, effects of nanoparticles on microcirculation

Further information