Nanomaterials are materials that contain nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are defined as particles where at least one dimension is in the range of 1-100 nanometers (nm). . Engineered nanomaterials are intentionally produced to obtain materials with improved physical and chemical complexity and properties, which make them advantageous in numerous applications such as food industry, textile, electronics, cosmetics, construction, and medicine.

Due to the increased manufacturing and use of nanomaterials in industrial production, concerns about potential adverse health effects among exposed workers have been raised. Nanomaterial exposure in the occupational setting is of particular concern since conditions at workplaces may generate nanosized particles at much higher levels than typically found at ambient conditions or in consumer products. The exposure at workplace includes workers in R&D, production, waste handling and recycling. Furthermore, the respiratory system is considered to be the main exposure route for nanomaterials in occupational settings, making the lungs the main target organ.

The composition of nanomaterials affects the physical and chemical behavior of of the material. Based on the material composition, nanomaterials can be divided into several categories, including nanotubes, nanospheres, nanowires, nanoparticles, and nanodisks. Carbon nanotubes have received extra attention, because of their fibrous structure and high aspect ratio, they are hypothesized to elicit similar effects to asbestos . Exposure to asbestos results in negative health effects, including lung fibrosis, mesothelioma (a form of chest cancer), and increased levels of inflammation in the body. Several animal studies with carbon nanotubes suggest asbestos-like outcomes when it comes to cancer development, toxic responses, and inflammation.

Main Objectives

The main objective of this project is to investigate the toxic and inflammatory properties of two types of carbon nanotubes produced in Norway and Japan. In addition, effects of exposure to carbon nanotubes will be compared to effects observed from asbestos exposure. Human lung cells exposed to different doses at various time points will be examined. In addition, mice will be injected with carbon nanotubes into the chest cavities to investigate the inflammatory and cancer-inducing effects of carbon nanotubes compared to asbestos.

Furthermore, mice cells lacking an important gene called IL1-beta will be used to compare the results to results obtained from human cells. effects observed here with effects observed from human cells. IL1-beta is a soluble protein that is released during inflammation, and which is crucial in the immune system.

Project group

Project manager: Shan Narui

Project group: Kristine Haugen Anmarkrud, Mayes Alswady-Hoff

Collaborative partners

Yke J. Arnoldussen, NMBU, Norway

Manela Esteller, Barcelona, Spain

Håkan Wallin, Copenhagen, Denmark

Peter Moller, Copenhagen, Denmark

Arne Klungland, Rikshospitalet, OUS

Gunnar Brunborg, FHI

Magnar Bjørås, Rikshospitalet-OUS

Edward Leithe, Radium Hospital, OUS

Mogens Mathiesen, n-Tec Norway, Oslo

Erik Ropstad, NMBU, Norway