Automotive airborne brake wear debris nanoparticles and cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay in peripheral blood lymphocytes: A pilot study

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Abstract

Motor vehicle exhaust and non-exhaust processes play a significant role in environmental pollution, as they are a source of the finest particulate matter. Emissions from non-exhaust processes include wear-products of brakes, tires, automotive hardware, road surface, and traffic signs, but still are paid little attention to. Automotive friction composites for brake pads are composite materials which may consist of potentially hazardous materials and there is a lack of information regarding the potential influence of the brake wear debris (BWD) on the environment, especially on human health. Thus, we focused our study on the genotoxicity of the airborne fraction of BWD using a brake pad model representing an average low-metallic formulation available in the EU market. BWD was generated in the laboratory by a full-scale brake dynamometer and characterized by Raman microspectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy showing that it contains nano-sized crystalline metal-based particles. Genotoxicity tested in human lymphocytes in different testing conditions showed an increase in frequencies of micronucleated binucleated cells (MNBNCs) exposed for 48 h to BWD nanoparticles (NPs) (with 10% of foetal calf serum in culture medium) compared with lymphocytes exposed to medium alone, statistically significant only at the concentration 3 μg/cm2 (p=0.032).

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