Animal experiments have shown that inhaled titanium dioxide (TiO2) particles are deposited in the lungs of the animals where they can trigger temporary inflammatory reactions.


A five-day inhalation study within the project NanoCare has revealed that inhaled TiO2 particles are deposited in the lung as agglomerates and can get into the lung-associated lymph nodes [1]. They are mostly found in phagocytes. In addition, instillation studies carried out within that project applying low (0,6 mg/lung) and high doses (4,8 mg/lung) showed a slight dose-dependent increase in the number of macrophages. These cells are important to immune defense and serve to remove foreign matter such as particles by phagocytosis [1].

Further instillation studies have shown that low doses of TiO2 particles are deposited in the lungs and can also get into the liver and kidneys. Small amounts of TiO2 had no negative effects on the lung but caused temporary changes in the metabolites in the liver and kidney. At high doses, the strong aggregation and disposal of particles in the lung was observed to cause severe inflammatory reactions. There was no detectable further transport of TiO2 particles in the liver and kidneys. Since the macrophages were no longer able to mediate phagocytosis, the lung became overcharged with particles [2,5]. Also according to Kobayashi and colleagues particles in the lung can cause short-term effects (24 h). The observed inflammatory reactions were found to have healed after approximately 1 month [3].


The effects described above cause acute reactions in the lung. Only few studies are available so far of the chronic effects of nanoscale TiO2 particles on the body. Park et al. have inferred from their studies that TiO2 may possibly cause chronic inflammation of the lung after instillation [4].


Literature arrow down

  1. NanoCare 2009, Final Scientific Report, ISBN 978-3-89746-108-6. (PDF-Document, 19 MB).
  2. Tang, M et al. (2010), J Nanosci Nanotechnol, 10(12): 8575-8583.
  3. Kobayashi, N et al. (2009), Toxicology, 264(1-2): 110-118.
  4. Park, EJ et al. (2009), Toxicology, 260(1-3): 37-46.
  5. Li, J et al. (2007), Environ Toxicol Pharmacol, 24(3): 239-244.
  6. Ma-Hock, L et al. (2009), Inhal Toxicol, 21(2): 102-118.


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