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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 328934, 11 pages
Research Article

Toxicity of Silver Nanoparticles at the Air-Liquid Interface

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech, 411 Durham Hall (0246), Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA

Received 8 August 2012; Revised 10 October 2012; Accepted 14 November 2012

Academic Editor: Ernesto Alfaro-Moreno

Copyright © 2013 Amara L. Holder and Linsey C. Marr. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Silver nanoparticles are one of the most prevalent nanomaterials in consumer products. Some of these products are likely to be aerosolized, making silver nanoparticles a high priority for inhalation toxicity assessment. To study the inhalation toxicity of silver nanoparticles, we have exposed cultured lung cells to them at the air-liquid interface. Cells were exposed to suspensions of silver or nickel oxide (positive control) nanoparticles at concentrations of 2.6, 6.6, and 13.2 μg cm−2 (volume concentrations of 10, 25, and 50 μg ml−1) and to 0.7 μg cm−2 silver or 2.1 μg cm−2 nickel oxide aerosol at the air-liquid interface. Unlike a number of in vitro studies employing suspensions of silver nanoparticles, which have shown strong toxic effects, both suspensions and aerosolized nanoparticles caused negligible cytotoxicity and only a mild inflammatory response, in agreement with animal exposures. Additionally, we have developed a novel method using a differential mobility analyzer to select aerosolized nanoparticles of a single diameter to assess the size-dependent toxicity of silver nanoparticles.