Effects of copy center particles on the lungs: a toxicological characterization using a Balb/c mouse model

Inhal Toxicol. 2013 Aug;25(9):498-508. doi: 10.3109/08958378.2013.806614. Epub 2013 Jul 29.


Context: Printers and photocopiers release respirable particles into the air. Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) have been recently incorporated into toner formulations but their potential toxicological effects have not been well studied.

Objective: To evaluate the biological responses to copier-emitted particles in the lungs using a mouse model.

Methods: Particulate matter (PM) from a university copy center was sampled and fractionated into three distinct sizes, two of which (PM0.1 and PM0.1-2.5) were evaluated in this study. The particles were extracted and dispersed in deionized water and RPMI/10% FBS. Hydrodynamic diameter and zeta potential were evaluated by dynamic light scattering. The toxicological potential of these particles was studied using 8-week-old male Balb/c mice. Mice were intratracheally instilled with 0.2, 0.6, 2.0 mg/kg bw of either the PM0.1 and PM0.1-2.5 size fractions. Fe2O3 and welding fumes were used as comparative materials, while RPMI/10% FBS was used as the vehicle control. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) was performed 24 hours post-instillation. The BAL fluid was analyzed for total and differential cell counts, and biochemical markers of injury and inflammation.

Results: Particle size- and dose-dependent pulmonary effects were found. Specifically, mice instilled with PM0.1 (2.0 mg/kg bw) had significant increases in neutrophil number, lactate dehydrogenase and albumin compared to vehicle control. Likewise, pro-inflammatory cytokines were elevated in mice exposed to PM0.1 (2.0 mg/kg bw) compared to other groups.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that exposure to copier-emitted nanoparticles may induce lung injury and inflammation. Further exposure assessment and toxicological investigations are necessary to address this emerging environmental health pollutant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Albumins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Ink*
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity*
  • Printing*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Albumins
  • Cytokines
  • Particulate Matter
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase