The production, research and product development of engineered nanomaterials is increasing worldwide. Already in Finland over 200 companies are utilizing nanomaterials in their production.

Occupational exposure to nanoparticles during their production and use mainly occurs through inhalation. Due to active research, the knowledge of the harmful effects of nanomaterials has improved, but the toxic mechanisms are still not fully understood.

The diversity of nanomaterials poses big challenges for toxicological testing and risk assessment, and animal testing can be performed for only a small proportion of the materials. Therefore, the development of cell based tests suitable for nanomaterials is crucial.

The secondary genotoxicity likely associated with inflammation plays a central role when assessing the carcinogenic potential of poorly soluble nanomaterials.

In the current project we are examining if nanomaterials can induce DNA double-strand breaks, which is an important question when evaluating carcinogenicity.

Aims of the project

In this project we are studying DNA double-strand breaks in mice and rat lung tissue samples originating from earlier performed carbon nanotube and carcinogenicity studies. The formation of DNA double-strand breaks has not previously been examined in animal samples coming from carbon nanotube carcinogenicity studies. By using new methods we can detect both the damaged cells and nanomaterials in the tissues.

We are also developing a new genotoxicity test method for detecting carcinogenic nanomaterials, which does not require animal testing. It is based on a co-culture model using inflammatory and epithelial cells for detecting secondary genotoxicity.

The results can be used for risk assessment of studied nanomaterials and hazard assessment of other similar nanomaterials.


2018 – 2020

Contact information

Hannu Norppa
040 474 2336

Hanna Lindberg
030 474 3006

Link to project description (in Finnish) at the Finnish Work Environment Fund -webpages