Nanoparticles are small-scale substances (<100 nm) with unique properties and, thus, complex exposure and health risk implications. This symposium review summarizes recent findings in exposure and toxicity of nanoparticles and their application for assessing human health risks. Characterization of airborne particles indicates that exposures will depend on particle behavior (e.g., disperse or aggregate) and that accurate, portable, and costeffective measurement techniques are essential for understanding exposure. Under many conditions, dermal penetration of nanoparticles may be limited for consumer products such as sunscreens, although additional studies are needed on potential photooxidation products, experimental methods, and the effect of skin condition on penetration. Carbon nanotubes apparently have greater pulmonary toxicity (inflammation, granuloma) in mice than fine-scale carbon graphite, and their metal content may affect toxicity. Studies on TiO2 and quartz illustrate the complex relationship between toxicity and particle characteristics, including surface coatings, which make generalizations (e.g., smaller particles are always more toxic) incorrect for some substances. These recent toxicity and exposure data, combined with therapeutic and other related literature, are beginning to shape risk assessments that will be used to regulate the use of nanomaterials in consumer products.
Key Words: nanotechnology; nanoparticles; risk assessment; exposure assessment.