Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 147–161 | Cite as

Airborne nanoparticle exposures associated with the manual handling of nanoalumina and nanosilver in fume hoods

  • Su-Jung (Candace) TsaiEmail author
  • Earl Ada
  • Jacqueline A. Isaacs
  • Michael J. Ellenbecker
Nanoparticles and Occupational Health


Manual handling of nanoparticles is a fundamental task of most nanomaterial research; such handling may expose workers to ultrafine or nanoparticles. Recent studies confirm that exposures to ultrafine or nanoparticles produce adverse inflammatory responses in rodent lungs and such particles may translocate to other areas of the body, including the brain. An important method for protecting workers handling nanoparticles from exposure to airborne nanoparticles is the laboratory fume hood. Such hoods rely on the proper face velocity for optimum performance. In addition, several other hood design and operating factors can affect worker exposure. Handling experiments were performed to measure airborne particle concentration while handling nanoparticles in three fume hoods located in different buildings under a range of operating conditions. Nanoalumina and nanosilver were selected to perform handling experiments in the fume hoods. Air samples were also collected on polycarbonate membrane filters and particles were characterized by scanning electron microscopy. Handling tasks included transferring particles from beaker to beaker by spatula and by pouring. Measurement locations were the room background, the researcher’s breathing zone and upstream and downstream from the handling location. Variable factors studied included hood design, transfer method, face velocity/sash location and material types. Airborne particle concentrations measured at breathing zone locations were analyzed to characterize exposure level. Statistics were used to test the correlation between data. The test results found that the handling of dry powders consisting of nano-sized particles inside laboratory fume hoods can result in a significant release of airborne nanoparticles from the fume hood into the laboratory environment and the researcher’s breathing zone. Many variables were found to affect the extent of particle release including hood design, hood operation (sash height, face velocity), work practices, type and quantity of the material being handled, room conditions, and the adequacy of the room exhaust.


Nanoparticle Nanoalumina handling Exposure Fume hood Nanotechnology Occupational health EHS 



Authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers for High-rate Nanomanufacturing funded by the National Science Foundation (Award No. NSF-0425826).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Su-Jung (Candace) Tsai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Earl Ada
    • 1
  • Jacqueline A. Isaacs
    • 2
  • Michael J. Ellenbecker
    • 1
  1. 1.NSF Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN)University of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA
  2. 2.NSF Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN)Northeastern UniversityBostonUSA

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