Titanium dioxide nanoparticles: occupational exposure assessment in the photocatalytic paving production
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Limited data are available regarding occupational exposure assessment to nano-sized titanium dioxide (nano-TiO2). The objective of this study is to assess the occupational exposure of workers engaged in the application of nano-TiO2 onto concrete building materials, by means of a multi-metric approach (mean diameter, number, mass and surface area concentrations). The measurement design consists of the combined use of (i) direct-reading instruments to evaluate the total particle number concentrations relative to the background concentration and the mean size-dependent characteristics of particles (mean diameter and surface area concentration) and to estimate the 8-h time-weighted average (8-h TWA) exposure to nano-TiO2 for workers involved in different working tasks; and (ii) filter-based air sampling, used for the determination of size-resolved particle mass concentrations. A further estimation was performed to obtain the mean 8-h TWA exposure values expressed as mass concentrations (µg nano-TiO2/m3). The multi-metric characterization of occupational exposure to nano-TiO2 was significantly different both for different work environments and for each work task. Generally, workers were exposed to engineered nanoparticles (ENPs; <100 nm) mean levels lower than the recommended reference values and proposed occupational exposure limits (40,000 particle/cm3; 300 µg/m3) and relevant exposures to peak concentration were not likely to be expected. The estimated 8-h TWA exposure showed differences between the unexposed and exposed subjects. For these last, further differences were defined between operators involved in different work tasks. This study provides information on nano-TiO2 number and mass concentration, size distribution, particles diameter and surface area concentrations, which were used to obtain work shift-averaged exposures.
KeywordsOccupational exposure Exposure assessment Titanium dioxide Engineered nanoparticles Engineered nanomaterial Occupational health
The authors gratefully acknowledge PURETI Italia srl for the participation in this research project. The authors also extend an acknowledgment to Dr. Sabrina Rovelli for her contribution to the environmental samplings.
This study was supported by a grant in the framework of “The MULAN program” (MULtilevel Approach to the study of Nanomaterials health and safety), a project founded by Fondazione Cariplo (Grant Number: 2011-2096).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that there are no known conflicts of interest associated with this publication.
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