Primary particles and their agglomerate formation as modifying risk factors of nonfibrous nanosized dust

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2013;76(2):131-41. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2013.738411.


The incidence of certain cancers correlates with the number of dust particles in the air. Nanosized particles differ from coarser particles by their increasing tendency to form agglomerates. The dissociation of biodurable agglomerates after deposition in the alveolar region resulted in a higher toxic potential. Biodurable dusts in the urban and workplace environment were analyzed to determine an effect-relevant exposure parameter. The characterization of the dusts relating to their number of primary particles (P(p)) and agglomerates and aggregates (A + A) was performed by electron microscopy. Diesel soot, toner material, and seven further dust samples in the workplace environment are composed of high numbers of nanosized primary particles (<100 nm) per unit mass occurring as larger agglomerates. Primary particles of rock, kaoline, and seven further dusts sampled in the workplace are not nanosized. In a multivariate analysis that predicted lung tumor risk, the mass, volume, and numbers of A + A and P(p) per milligram dust were shown to be relevant parameters. Dose-response relationships revealed an increased tumor risk in rats with higher numbers of P(p) in nanosized dust, which occurs unintentionally in the environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Dust / analysis*
  • Female
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nanoparticles / analysis
  • Nanoparticles / toxicity*
  • Particle Size*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Soot / analysis
  • Soot / toxicity
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis
  • Vehicle Emissions / toxicity


  • Air Pollutants
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dust
  • Soot
  • Vehicle Emissions