Nanotechnology Project

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Environment, Health and Safety Research

Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) Nanoparticle Exposure Study

Project Information

Principal InvestigatorBrian Curwin
InstitutionNational Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
Project URLView
Relevance to ImplicationsHigh
Class of NanomaterialEngineered Nanomaterials
Impact SectorSafety
Broad Research Categories Exposure
NNI identifierd1-2

Funding Information

Anticipated Total Funding$400,000.00
Annual Funding$133,333.33
Funding SourceNIOSH
Funding Mechanism
Funding Sector
Start Year2004
Anticipated End Year2007


Titanium dioxide (TiO2), a poorly soluble, low-toxicity (PSLT) white powder, is used extensively in many commercial products, including paint, cosmetics, plastics, paper, and food as an anti-caking or whitening agent. Production in the United States was an estimated 1.43 million metric tons per year in 2004 [DOI 2005].

Ultrafine particles are hypothesized to penetrate the epithelial lining and lung interstitial spaces to a greater extent, more readily enter cells, and cause greater lung inflammation and oxidative stress compared with larger particles. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that the lung responses and this relationship is similar across PSLT particles. Persistent inflammation, tissue damage, fibrosis, and lung cancer have been observed in rats at doses of PSLT particles that impair lung clearance. Particle surface area dose has been shown to be a better predictor of lung clearance inhibition.

NIOSH has identified critical research needs for workers exposed to ultrafine and fine TiO2, including measuring workplace airborne exposures to ultrafine TiO2 in manufacturing and end-user facilities and evaluating the exposure response relationship between TiO2 and human health effects. The goal of this study is to measure workplace exposure to fine and ultrafine TiO2 in both manufacturing and end-user facilities. The specific objectives are to: 1) quantify the airborne particle size distribution of TiO2 by job or process in manufacturing and end-user facilities, and 2) obtain quantitative estimates of exposure in workers to fine and ultrafine TiO2 particle sizes in manufacturing and end-user facilities. A task-based sampling scheme consisting of various real-time and mass based area and personal aerosol sampling will be employed. In addition, each participant will be asked to provide information about their work practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) use.

(Project budget is an estimate only, based on available data)