Brenner Research Group - Research

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NanoHealth & Safety Research Continuum

Brenner - Continuum

Image credit: Stebounova L, Morgan H, Grassian V, Brenner S. Health and Safety Implications of Occupational Exposure to Engineered Nanomaterials. WIREs Nanomedicine & Nanobiotechnology 2012, 4:31-321.

Brenner research

Occupational Exposure Assessment of Engineered Nanoparticles in Chemical Mechanical Planarization (CMP)

  • This focus area assesses potential worker exposures to engineered nanoparticles and agglomerates during CMP tool operation, maintenance and related tasks.
  • Air sampling is conducted using multiple complementary instruments and approaches to compare particle number concentrations during tasks with potential exposure to nanoparticles with background levels, and to characterize airborne particulate by size, morphology, and chemical composition.
  • We are currently exploring alternative methods for sample collection and analysis, including new instrumentation for measuring nanoparticle size and distribution.
Brenner research

Identification and Determination of Metal Oxide Nanoparticles During Conventional Wastewater Treatment

  • The focus of this project is to understand the effectiveness of industrial wastewater treatment in removing nanoparticles in a real-world R&D facility as well as characterize nanoparticle transport and kinetics.
  • Wastewater from CMP undergoes multiple treatment processes including size filtration, cation exchange, activated carbon adsorption, and pH neutralization which are aimed at copper (not nanoparticle) removal.
  • Imaging and analytical techniques include SEM, EDX, DLS, and XPS.
  • Data gathering from sampling events will be used to develop a predictive mathematical model which can estimate nanoparticle characteristics and concentrations using other parameters (such as the composition of influent or analysis of a later step in wastewater treatment).
Brenner researches in protective suits

Fundamental Investigation of Semiconductor Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Cleanroom Attire

  • The focus of this project is to analyze the efficacy of cleanroom wear and personal protective equipment in preventing dermal exposures to engineered nanomaterials using high-resolution imaging and lab-based permeation models.
  • Imaging and chemical analysis techniques include (but are not limited to) SEM, ESEM, and XPS.
  • Working conditions, time of wear, temperature and humidity are additional factors to consider to fully comprehend the effectiveness of current PPE in preventing dermal exposures.

Skin image

Stratum corneum skin layer exposed to metal oxide nanoparticles, shown in brightfield (left) and in darkfield (right), where nanoparticles are indicated by an arrow. Imaged at CNSE by Pilar Sosa.[/caption]

Cutaneous Penetration of Nano-sized SiO2, Al2O3, and CeO2 Using a Porcine Skin Model

  • The focus of this project is to investigate and characterize nanoparticle penetration through skin.
  • Imaging and analytical techniques include SEM, EDX, and CytoViva darkfield microscopy and hyperspectral imaging (HSI)
  • A Franz diffusion chamber was used to permit realistic, very low volume epidermal exposures, while SEM, EDX, and HSI methods were used to determine nanoparticle depth, location, and composition.
  • Results indicate that metal oxide nanoparticles penetrate porcine skin, and the route of entry appears to be via the hair follicle or within nuclei of dermal epithelial cells.
Member of group adjusts mask

Risk Assessment of Acute vs. Subchronic Inhalation Exposure to Engineered Metal Oxide NPs

  • This focus area investigates the extent to which dose, dose rate, and duration of exposure to metal oxide nanoparticles influences associated health outcomes.
  • This study measures inhalation exposure in vivo and in vitro to SiO2, Al2O3, and CeO2 nanoparticles using inhalation, as well as traditional bolus type delivery methods for comparison and also compares traditional exposures of Type I lung epithelial cells to a novel aerosol exposure system.
  • These realistic exposure doses and dose rates will help to determine a no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL), which can then be extrapolated to establish a human equivalent concentration (HEC).
  • Currently, this study has found a significant difference between certain nanoparticles contained in CMP slurries for inducing pulmonary inflammation.
Member of Brenner group in the clean room

Fundamental investigation of cardiovascular/microvascular effects of exposure to nanoparticles in mouse and hamster models

  • The focus of this project is to enhance our fundamental understanding of the effects of metal oxide nanoparticles on the heart and vasculature through both dermal and lung exposure routes.
  • Metal/metalloid oxide nanoparticles commonly used in the nanoelectronics industry used for testing include Al2O3 and SiO2.
  • Porcine skin model is used for dermal route of entry
  • Cardiac function is assessed in rodents (trans-esophageal echo cardiography)
  • Endothelial function is evaluated using a hamster isolated femoral artery model and microvascular cheek pouch model


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