Nanoparticles Used in Common Household Items Cause DNA Damage- Study.

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles, found in everything from cosmetics to sunscreen to paint to vitamins, caused systemic genetic damage in mice, according to a comprehensive study conducted by researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The TiO2 nanoparticles induced single- and double-strand DNA breaks and also caused chromosomal damage as well as inflammation, all of which increase the risk for cancer. The UCLA study is the first to show that the nanoparticles had such an effect, said Robert Schiestl, a professor of pathology, radiation oncology and environmental health sciences, a Jonsson Cancer Center scientist and the study’s senior author.

Once in the system, the TiO2 nanoparticles accumulate in different organs because the body has no way to eliminate them. And because they are so small, they can go everywhere in the body, even through cells, and may interfere with sub-cellular mechanisms.

The study appeared the week of November 16 2009 in the journal Cancer Research.

In the past, these TiO2 nanoparticles have been considered non-toxic in that they do not incite a chemical reaction. Instead, it is surface interactions that the nanoparticles have within their environment- in this case inside a mouse — that is causing the genetic damage, Schiestl said. They wander throughout the body causing oxidative stress, which can lead to cell death.

It is a novel mechanism of toxicity, a physicochemical reaction, these particles cause in comparison to regular chemical toxins, which are the usual subjects of toxicological research, Schiestl said.

“The novel principle is that titanium by itself is chemically inert. However, when the particles become progressively smaller, their surface, in turn, becomes progressively bigger and in the interaction of this surface with the environment oxidative stress is induced,” he said. “This is the first comprehensive study of titanium dioxide nanoparticle-induced genotoxicity, possibly caused by a secondary mechanism associated with inflammation and/or oxidative stress. Given the growing use of these nanoparticles, these findings raise concern about potential health hazards associated with exposure.”

The manufacture of TiO2 nanoparticles is a huge industry, Schiestl said, with production at about two million tons per year. In addition to paint, cosmetics, sunscreen and vitamins, the nanoparticles can be found in toothpaste, food colorants, nutritional supplements and hundreds of other personal care products.

“It could be that a certain portion of spontaneous cancers are due to this exposure,” Schiestl said. “And some people could be more sensitive to nanoparticles exposure than others. “I believe the toxicity of these nanoparticles has not been studied enough.”

Schiestl said the nanoparticles cannot go through skin, so he recommends using a lotion sunscreen. Spray-on sunscreens could potentially be inhaled and the nanoparticles can become lodged in the lungs.

The mice were exposed to the TiO2 nanoparticles in their drinking water and began showing genetic damage on the fifth day. The human equivalent is about 1.6 years of exposure to the nanoparticles in a manufacturing environment. However, Schiestl said, it’s not clear if regular, everyday exposure in humans increases exponentially as continued contact with the nanoparticles occurs over time.

“These data suggest that we should be concerned about a potential risk of cancer or genetic disorders especially for people occupationally exposed to high concentrations of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, and that it might be prudent to limit their ingestion through non-essential drug additives, food colors, etc.,” the study states.

Next, Schiestl and his team will study exposure to the nanoparticles in mice that are deficient in DNA repair, to perhaps help find a way to predict which people might be particularly sensitive to them.


Climate scientists suggest geoengineering approach with engineered nanoparticles

There may be better ways to engineer the planet’s climate to prevent dangerous global warming than mimicking volcanoes, a University of Calgary climate scientist says in two new studies.

“Releasing engineered nano-sized disks, or sulphuric acid in a condensable vapour above the Earth, are two novel approaches. These approaches offer advantages over simply putting sulphur dioxide gas into the atmosphere,” says David Keith, a director in the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy and a Schulich School of Engineering professor.

Keith, a global leader in investigating this topic, says that geoengineering, or engineering the climate on a global scale, is an imperfect science. “It cannot offset the risks that come from increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If we don’t halt man-made CO2 emissions, no amount of climate engineering can eliminate the problems – massive emissions reductions are still necessary.” Nevertheless, Keith believes that research on geoengineering technologies,their effectiveness and environmental impacts needs to be expanded.
“I think the stakes are simply too high at this point to think that ignorance is a good policy.”

Keith suggests two novel geoengineering approaches–’levitating’ engineered nano-particles, and the airborne release of sulphuric acid–in two newly published studies. One study was authored by Keith alone, and the other with scientists in Canada, the U.S. and Switzerland.

Scientists investigating geoengineering have so far looked mainly at injecting sulphur dioxide into the upper atmosphere. This approach imitates the way volcanoes create sulphuric acid aerosols, or sulphates, that will reflect solar radiation back into space – thereby cooling the planet’s surface. Keith says that sulphates are blunt instruments for climate engineering. It’s very difficult to achieve the optimum distribution and size of the aerosols in the atmosphere to reflect the most solar radiation and get the maximum cooling benefit.

One advantage of using sulphates is that scientists have some understanding of their effects in the atmosphere because of emissions from volcanoes such as Mt. Pinatubo, he adds. “A downside of both these new ideas is they would do something that nature has never seen before. It’s easier to think of new ideas than to understand their effectiveness and environmental risks,” says Keith.

In his study–published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a top-ranked international science journal–Keith describes a new class of engineered nano-particles that might be used to offset global warming more efficiently, and with fewer negative side effects, than using sulphates.
According to Keith, the distribution of engineered nano-particles above the Earth could be more controlled and less likely to harm the planet’s protective ozone layer.
Sulphates also have unwanted side-effects, ranging from reducing the electricity output from certain solar power systems, to speeding up the chemical process that breaks down the ozone layer.
Engineered nano-particles could be designed as thin disks and built with electric or magnetic materials that would enable them to be levitated or oriented in the atmosphere to reflect the most solar radiation.
It may also be possible to control the position of particles above the Earth. In theory, the particles might be engineered to drift toward Earth’s poles, to reduce solar radiation in polar regions and counter the melting of ice that speeds up polar warming–known as the ice-albedo feedback.
“Such an ability might be relevant in the event that warming triggers rapid deglaciation,” Keith’s study says.
“Engineered nano-particles would first need to be tested in laboratories, with only short-lived particles initially deployed in the atmosphere so any effects could be easily reversible,” says Keith.
Research would also be needed to determine whether such nano-particles could be effectively distributed, given the complex interplay of forces in the atmosphere, and how much cooling might be achieved at the planet’s surface.
It is also unknown whether the amount of particles needed–about 1 trillion kilograms per year or 10 million tonnes over 10 years–could be manufactured and deployed at a reasonable cost.
However, Keith notes another study, which looked at the cost of putting natural sulphates into the stratosphere.
“You could manipulate the Earth’s climate at large scale for a cost that’s of the order of $1 billion a year. It sounds like a lot of money, but compared to the costs of managing other environmental problems or climate change, that is peanuts.”
“This is not an argument to do it, only an indication that risk, not cost, will be the deciding issue,” he adds.
In a separate new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Keith and international scientists describe another geoengineering approach that may also offer advantages over injecting sulphur dioxide gas.
Releasing sulphuric acid, or another condensable vapour, from an aircraft would give better control of particle size. The study says this would reflect more solar radiation back into space, while using fewer particles overall and reducing unwanted heating in the lower stratosphere.
The study included computer modeling that showed that the sulphuric acid would quickly condense in a plume, forming smaller particles that would last longer in the stratosphere and be more effective in reflecting solar radiation than the large sulphates formed from sulphur dioxide gas.
Keith stresses that whether geoengineering technology is ever used, it shouldn’t be seen as a reason not to reduce man-made greenhouse gas emissions now accumulating in the atmosphere.
“Seat belts reduce the risk of being injured in accidents. But having a seat belt doesn’t mean you should drive drunk at 100 miles an hour,” he says

When nano may not be nano

The same properties of nanoparticles that make them so appealing to manufacturers may also have negative effects on the environment and human health.

However, little is known which particles may be harmful. Part of the problem is determining exactly what a nanoparticle is.

A new analysis by an international team of researchers from the Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT), based at Duke University, argues for a new look at the way nanoparticles are selected when studying the potential impacts on human health and the environment. They have found that while many small particles are considered to be “nano,” these materials often do not meet full definition of having special properties that make them different from conventional materials.

Under the prevailing definition, a particle is deemed nano if its diameter is between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm) and if it has properties that significantly differ from its naturally occurring, or bulk, counterpart.
The special properties of nanoparticles come from their high surface-area-to-volume ratio. They also have a considerably higher percentage of atoms on their surface compared to bulk particles, which can make them more reactive. These man-made materials can be found in a vast array of consumer products, including paints and sunscreens, as well as in water treatment plants and drug delivery systems.

For most of this decade, discussions of nanoparticles have tended to focus more on their size than their properties. However, after reviewing the scientific literature, the Duke-led team believes that the old definition is not specific enough. A definition that focuses on properties is critical, they say, to help scientists determine which particular nanoparticles are the most likely to represent a threat to the environment or human health.

Generally speaking, it is the very smallest particles (less than 30 nanometers) that should receive the most attention in studying the environmental and human health impacts of nanomaterials, according to Mark Wiesner, a Duke professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the federally funded CEINT.
“There are an infinite number of potential new man-made nanoparticles, so we need to find a way to narrow our efforts to those that have the greatest likelihood of having the unique properties with unique effects,” Wiesner said.
“A key question to be answered is whether or not a particular nanoparticle has toxic or hazardous properties that are truly different from identical particles in their bulk form,” Wiesner continued. “This question has not been answered. To do so, we need to be speaking the same language when assessing any unique properties of these novel materials.”

The results of Wiesner’s analysis were published online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The study was supported by CEINT, which is jointly funded by the National Science Foundation and Environmental Protection Agency.

Specifically, the researchers found that nanoparticles approaching the 100 nm end of the size spectrum tend to have fewer special properties when compared to their bulk counterparts. Furthermore, they found that nanoparticles smaller than 30 nm tend to exhibit the unique properties that should command increased scrutiny, Wiesner said.

“Many nanoparticles smaller than 30 nanometers undergo drastic changes in their crystalline structure that enhance how the atoms on their surface interact with the environment,” Wiesner said.

For example, because of the increased surface-area-to-volume ratio, nanoparticles can be highly reactive with other chemicals in the environment and can also disrupt certain activities within cells.

“While there have been reports of nanoparticle toxicity increasing as the size decreases, it is still uncertain whether this increase in reactivity is harmful to the environment or human safety,” Wiesner said. “To settle this issue, toxicological studies should contrast particles that exhibit novel size-dependant properties, particularly concerning their surface reactivity, and those particles that do not exhibit these properties.”


Titanium dioxide nanoparticles induce oxidative stress and DNA adduct formation but not DNA breakage in human lung cells

Titanium dioxide (TiO2), also known as titanium (IV) oxide or anatase, is the naturally occurring oxide of titanium. It is also one of the most commercially used form.

To date, no parameter has been set for the average ambient air concentration of TiO2 nanoparticles (NP) by any regulatory agency. Previously conducted studies had established these nanoparticles to be mainly non-cyto- and -genotoxic, although they had been found to generate free radicals both acellularly (specially through photocatalytic activity) and intracellularly.

The present study determines the role ofTiO2-NP (anatase, <100 nm) using several parameters such as cyto- and genotoxicity, DNA-adduct formation and generation of free radicals following its uptake by human lung cells in vitro. For comparison, iron containing nanoparticles (hematite, Fe2O3, <100 nm) were used.

The results of this study showed that both types of NP were located in the cytosol near the nucleus. No particles were found inside the nucleus, in mitochondria or ribosomes.

Human lung fibroblasts (IMR-90) were more sensitive regarding cyto- and genotoxic effects caused by the NP than human bronchial epithelial cells (BEAS-2B). In contrast to hematite NP, TiO2-NP did not induce DNA-breakage measured by the Comet-assay in both cell types.

Generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was measured acellularly (without any photocatalytic activity) as well as intracellularly for both types of particles, however, the iron-containing NP needed special reducing conditions before pronounced radical generation. A high level of DNA adduct formation (8-OHdG) was observed in IMR-90 cells exposed to TiO2-NP, but not in cells exposed to hematite NP.

Our study demonstrates different modes of action for TiO2- and Fe2O3-NP. Whereas TiO2-NP were able to generate elevated amounts of free radicals, which induced indirect genotoxicity mainly by DNA-adduct formation, Fe2O3-NP were clastogenic (induction of DNA-breakage) and required reducing conditions for radical formation.

Author: Kunal BhattacharyaMaria DavorenJens BoertzRoel SchinsEik HoffmannElke Dopp
Credits/Source: Particle and Fibre Toxicology 2009, 6:17