Release of airborne particles and Ag and Zn compounds from nanotechnology-enabled consumer sprays: Implications for inhalation exposure

Leonardo Calderón, Taewon T. Han, Catriona M. McGilvery, Letao Yang, Prasad Subramaniam, Ki Bum Lee, Stephan Schwander, Teresa D. Tetley, Panos G. Georgopoulos, Mary Ryan, Alexandra E. Porter, Rachel Smith, Kian Fan Chung, Paul J. Lioy, Junfeng Zhang, Gediminas Mainelis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The increasing prevalence and use of nanotechnology-enabled consumer products have increased potential consumer exposures to nanoparticles; however, there is still a lack of data characterizing such consumer exposure. The research reported here investigated near-field airborne exposures due to the use of 13 silver (Ag)-based and 5 zinc (Zn)-based consumer sprays. The products were sprayed into a specially designed glove box, and all products were applied with equal spraying duration and frequency. Size distribution and concentration of the released particles were assessed using a Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer and an Aerodynamic Particle Sizer. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) was used to investigate the presence of metals in all investigated products. Spray liquids and airborne particles from select products were examined using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS). We found that all sprays produced airborne particles ranging in size from nano-sized particles (<100 nm) to coarse particles (>2.5 μm); however, there was a substantial variation in the released particle concentration depending on a product. The total aerosol mass concentration was dominated by the presence of coarse particles, and it ranged from ∼30 μg/m3to ∼30,000 μg/m3. The TEM verified the presence of nanoparticles and their agglomerates in liquid and airborne states. The products were found to contain not only Ag and Zn compounds - as advertised on the product labeling - but also a variety of other metals including lithium, strontium, barium, lead, manganese and others. The results presented here can be used as input to model population exposures as well as form a basis for human health effects studies due to the use nanotechnology-enabled products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-96
Number of pages12
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


  • Consumer sprays
  • Exposure
  • Metals
  • Nanoparticles
  • Nanotechnology
  • Nanotechnology-enabled consumer products


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