Report: Inhalation of Nanomaterials Causes "Most Significant" Health Effects

Published December 23, 2015

A report published by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that inhalation of nanomaterials is the exposure route that provides the most significant health effects to consumers and others. Failing to use respiratory protective equipment during the application of nanomaterial-containing paint with a spray gun is one example of how consumers may be exposed. However, the report notes that the highest risk of inhalation of nanomaterials exists in the working environment, where workers produce products containing nanomaterials and must contend with waste management related to production. Though workers’ exposures may be larger than consumers’ and may extend through their entire working lives, the report also mentions that nanomaterials are typically used in the working environment with ventilation, personal protective equipment and other protective measures that are not always used in consumer settings.

The report, which discusses the results of the Danish government’s four-year initiative to better understand the pathways of exposure to nanomaterials and the potential risks to consumers and the environment, also includes information on oral intake, dermal exposure, and eye exposure. The Danish EPA found that risks related to dermal exposure to nanomaterials “apparently are not significant, which is in accordance with the existing knowledge indicating that nanomaterials are not absorbed through the skin and do not, to a substantial degree, lead to damages of the skin.” The report also notes that eye exposure does not seem to present substantial risk to consumers.

The full report has been translated into English and is available as a PDF on the Danish EPA’s website.