Comparing inhaled ultrafine versus fine zinc oxide particles in healthy adults: A human inhalation study

William S. Beckett, David F. Chalupa, Andrea Pauly-Brown, Donna M. Speers, Judith C. Stewart, Mark W. Frampton, Mark J. Utell, Li Shan Huang, Christopher Cox, Wojciech Zareba, Günter Oberdörster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Rationale: Zinc oxide is a common, biologically active constituent of particulate air pollution as well as a workplace toxin. Ultrafine particles (< 0.1 μm diameter) are believed to be more potent than an equal mass of inhaled accumulation mode particles (0.1-1.0 μm diameter). Objectives: We compared exposure-response relationships for respiratory, hematologic, and cardiovascular endpoints between ultrafine and accumulation mode zinc oxide particles. Methods: In a human inhalation study, 12 healthy adults inhaled 500 μg/m3 of ultrafine zinc oxide, the same mass of fine zinc oxide, and filtered air while at rest for 2 hours. Measurements and Main Results: Preexposure and follow-up studies of symptoms, leukocyte surface markers, hemostasis, and cardiac electrophysiology were conducted to 24 hours post-exposure. Induced sputum was sampled 24 hours after exposure. No differences were detected between any of the three exposure conditions at this level of exposure. Conclusions: Freshly generated zinc oxide in the fine or ultrafine fractions inhaled by healthy subjects at rest at a concentration of 500 μg/m3 for 2 hours is below the threshold for acute systemic effects as detected by these endpoints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1129-1135
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Air pollution
  • Metal fume fever
  • Particulate matter, ultrafine
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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