Special Issue: Environmental and human exposure of nanomaterials

Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp 1637-1650

First online:

Relevance of aerosol dynamics and dustiness for personal exposure to manufactured nanoparticles

  • Thomas SchneiderAffiliated withNational Research Centre for the Working Environment Email author 
  • , Keld A. JensenAffiliated withNational Research Centre for the Working Environment

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Production and handling of manufactured nanoparticles (MNP) may result in unwanted worker exposure. The size distribution and structure of MNP in the breathing zone of workers will differ from the primary MNP produced. Homogeneous coagulation, scavenging by background aerosols, and surface deposition losses are determinants of this change during transport from source to the breathing zone, and to a degree depending on the relative time scale of these processes. Modeling and experimental studies suggest that in MNP production scenarios, workers are most likely exposed to MNP agglomerates or MNP attached to other particles. Surfaces can become contaminated by MNP, which constitute potential secondary sources of airborne MNP-containing particles. Dustiness testing can provide insight into the state of agglomeration of particles released during handling of bulk MNP powder. Test results, supported by field data, suggest that the particles released from powder handling occur in distinct size modes and that the smallest mode can be expected to have a geometric mean diameter >100 nm. The dominating presence of MNP agglomerates or MNP attached to background particles in the air during production and use of MNP implies that size alone cannot, in general, be used to demonstrate presence or absence of MNP in the breathing zone of workers. The entire respirable size fraction should be assessed for risk from inhalation exposure to MNP.


Agglomerate Coagulation Dustiness EHS Exposure Nanoparticles Occupational health Surface deposition