We Breath Nanoparticles From Consumer Products, Especially Those Stored in Carpets Interview with:

Gediminas "Gedi" Mainelis, Ph.D.Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Prof. Mainelis

Gediminas “Gedi” Mainelis, Ph.D.
Department of Environmental Sciences
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey What is the background for this study? What types of particles, ie where do they come from?

Response: This work is a continuation of my research on nanoparticles in consumer products. We have investigated and published on the release of particles from nano-enabled consumer products, such as cosmetic powders, various sprays and clothing.

In this project, we were interested in potential resuspension of particles once nano-enabled consumer sprays are used. The particles are added into consumer products to provide them certain desired properties, like antimicrobial protection, odor reduction or protection against UV (sunscreen). Once the products are used, the particles are released and we could be exposed to them. What are the main findings?

Response:  We found that once the nano-enabled sprays are used, the released particles will settle onto the floor and can be resuspended due to walking. The resuspension intensity is higher for carpeted flooring compared to hard flooring, and adults resuspend higher particle mass concentration compared to children (we used a robot to simulate a child’s motion). However, children’s breathing zone (e.g., nose and mouth) are closer to the floor, so their exposures could be higher than those of adults. In addition, particles resuspended by an adult would affect not only the person walking in the room, but other people present there as well. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Try and use those sprays judiciously. When spraying, try to avoid direct inhalation – turn your head away. Be aware that the flooring, especially carpets, are reservoirs of particles. Use a high quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Poor quality vacuum cleaners can resuspend a lot of small particles increasing their presence in the air and our exposures to them. What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?

Response: As the new and innovative products, especially nanotechnology-based products, appear on the market, there is a challenge to determine if they have any potential health implications. We would also like to delve into the prevalence of nano-sized particles from consumer products in indoor environments, and look into affordable technologies to clean indoor air and minimize our exposures. Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: Indoor air pollution is an important and multifaceted challenge that only now is  beginning to receive long overdue attention. Since we spend more than 90% of our time indoors, our activities indoors and sources of indoor pollution play an important role in our health. We, as individuals, have a number of options and tools how to improve indoor air quality and we should implement those options. This study was supported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and we are grateful for the support.


He R, McAtee J, Mainelis G. Potential exposure of adults and children to particles from resuspended nano-enabled consumer sprays. Sci Total Environ. 2024 May 10;924:171459. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.171459. Epub 2024 Mar 2. PMID: 38438041.


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Last Updated on May 7, 2024 by Marie Benz MD FAAD