July 7, 2008

Study: Quantum Dots Can Penetrate Skin

U.S. scientists say they've discovered quantum dot nanoparticles can penetrate skin if there's an abrasion, raising new nanotechnology safety concerns.

North Carolina State University researchers said the finding provides insight into potential workplace concerns for healthcare workers or individuals involved in the manufacturing of quantum dots or doing research on potential biomedical applications of the tiny nanoparticles.

While the study shows that quantum dots of different sizes, shapes and surface coatings do not penetrate rat skin unless there is an abrasion, it shows that even minor cuts or scratches could potentially allow these nanoparticles to penetrate deep into the viable dermal layer and potentially reach the bloodstream, the researchers said.

Although the study indicates short-term dermal exposure to quantum dots does not pose a risk of penetration unless there is an abrasion, the scientists said there still exists uncertainties about long-term exposure.

The research that included Professor Nancy Monteiro-Riviere and doctoral student Leshuai Zhang appeared in the June issue of the journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology.