Exposure to airborne nano-titanium dioxide during airless spray painting and sanding

J Occup Environ Hyg. 2019 Mar;16(3):218-228. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2018.1550295. Epub 2019 Feb 12.


The objectives of the study were to measure and characterize exposure to airborne nanoscale titanium dioxide during airless spraying and sanding of a nano-enabled paint, and to evaluate the effectiveness of dust capture methods in reducing airborne nanoparticle concentrations. A tradesperson performed the work activities in an environmentally controlled chamber. Samples were collected in the tradesperson's breathing zone and in surrounding areas to assess bystander exposure. Filter-based samples were analyzed using gravimetric methods, scanning electron microscopy, and energy dispersive spectroscopy. Differential particle count data were obtained by means of a scanning mobility particle sizer. Local exhaust ventilation provided statistically significant reductions of airborne nanoparticle concentrations during sanding. Sanding the paint after drying with a handheld power sander generated relatively low levels of airborne titanium dioxide. In contrast, task-based exposure measurements collected during the initial airless spray application of the nano-enabled paint suggested a potential for occupational exposures to exceed the time-weighted average exposure limit for ultrafine titanium dioxide recommended by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Painters applying nano-enabled coatings may have little recourse but to rely, in some instances, on lower tiers of the hierarchy of controls, such as personal protective equipment. In light of these findings, employers and industrial hygienists should characterize exposures and implement the hierarchy of controls to ensure painters are sufficiently protected.

Keywords: Construction; engineering controls; inhalation; local exhaust ventilation; nano-enabled; nanomaterials.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis*
  • Construction Industry
  • Dust / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / analysis*
  • Inhalation Exposure / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Nanoparticles
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control
  • Paint / analysis*
  • Spectrum Analysis / methods
  • Titanium / analysis*
  • Ventilation


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dust
  • titanium dioxide
  • Titanium