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Nanoparticles and lung disease?

Posted Oct 15 2009 10:02pm

A few weeks back the very good blog The Pump Handle published a piece on nanoparticles, called:  Case report: nanoparticles in workers’ lungs

“Three physicians and researchers from the Capital University of Medical Sciences (Beijing, China) have published a case report in the European Respiratory Journal  describing severe lung disease in seven female workers employed at a shop where they applied polyacrylic coatings to polystyrene boards.  The lung disease is just one part of the story—two of the women died (ages 19 and 29)—the other part is that pathology samples from the workers’ lungs identified 30 nm (nanometer) in diameter particles.  Further investigation found that the coatings used by the workers contained nano partcles, too.”

It’s really worth reading because it gives you also some insights in the reactions on the article. The abstract of the original study is underneath:

Exposure to nanoparticles is related to pleural effusion, pulmonary fibrosis and granuloma
Y. Song, X. Li, X. Du
Eur Respir J 2009, doi:10.1183/09031936.00178308

Nano materials generate great benefits as well as new potential risks. Animal studies and in vitro experiments show that nano particles can result in lung damage and other toxicity, but no reports on the clinical toxicity in humans due to nano particles have yet been made.

The study aims to examine the relationship between a group of workers’ mysterious symptomatic findings and their nano particle exposure.

Seven young female workers (18–47years), exposed to nano particles for 5–13 months, all with shortness of breath and pleural effusions, were admitted to the hospital. Immunologic tests, examinations of bacteriology, virology and tumour markers, bronchoscope, internal thoracoscopy, and video-assisted thoracic surgery were performed. Survey of the workplace, clinical observations and examinations on patients were conducted.

Polyacrylate, consisting of nano particles, was confirmed in the workplace. Pathological examinations of patients’ lung tissue displayed non-specific pulmonary inflammation, pulmonary fibrosis and foreign-body granulomas of pleura. By transmission electron microscopy, nano particles were observed to lodge in the cytoplasm and caryoplasm of pulmonary epithelial and mesothelial cells, but also locate in the chest fluid. These cases arouse concern that long-term exposure to some nano particles without protective measures may be related to serious damage to human lungs.

Posted in lung, Occupational exposure Tagged: lung disease, Nanoparticles
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