TUESDAY, May 14, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Inhaling ultrafine particles from so-called "nanomaterials" -- which are used in a growing number of household and commercial products, including sunscreens, ink in copy machines and lightweight sporting equipment -- can cause lung inflammation and damage, a team of U.S. scientists says.
The findings of the study -- which looked at the two most common types of engineered nanomaterials -- are important because of the large quantities of nanomaterials being used in industry, electronics and medicine, the researchers said.
Nanomaterials are used to make product stronger and more flexible.
Earlier studies had found that breathing nanomaterials could harm the lungs, but this study is believed to be the first in which different laboratories across the country produced similar results regarding the risk.
The findings should help in creating policy for the safe development of nanotechnology, according to the authors of the study, which was published online recently in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
"This research provides further confirmation that nanomaterials have the potential to cause inflammation and injury to the lungs," Kent Pinkerton, a study senior author and the director of the Center for Health and the Environment at the University of California, Davis, said in a university news release. "Although small amounts of these materials in the lungs do not appear to produce injury, we still must remain vigilant in using care in the diverse applications of these materials in consumer products and foods."
The American Lung Association explains how to protect your lungs.