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Early assessment and correlations of nanoclay’s toxicity to their physical and chemical properties
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Details:
  • Pubmed ID:
    28799741
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC6390283
  • Description:
    Nanoclays' functionalization with organic modifiers increases their individual barrier properties, thermal stability, and mechanical properties and allows for ease of implementation in food packaging materials or medical devices. Previous reports have shown that, while organic modifiers integration between the layered mineral silicates leads to nanoclays with different degrees of hydrophobicity that become easily miscible in polymers, they could also pose possible effects at inhalation or ingestion routes of exposure. Through a systematic analysis of three organically modified and one pristine nanoclay, we aimed to relate for the first time the physical and chemical characteristics, determined via microscopical and spectroscopical techniques, with the potential of these nanoclays to induce deleterious effects in in vitro cellular systems, i.e. in immortalized and primary human lung epithelial cell lines. To derive information on how functionalization could lead to toxicological profiles throughout nanoclays' life cycle, both as-received and thermally degraded nanoclays were evaluated. Our analysis showed that the organic modifiers chemical composition influenced both the physical and chemical characteristics of the nanoclays as well as their toxicity. Overall, when cells were exposed to nanoclays with organic modifiers containing bioreactive groups, they displayed lower cellular numbers as well more elongated cellular morphologies relative to the pristine nanoclay and the nanoclay containing a modifier with long carbon chains. Additionally, thermal degradation caused loss of the organic modifiers as well as changes in size and shape of the nanoclays, which led to changes in toxicity upon exposure to our model cellular systems. Our study provides insight into the synergistic effects of chemical composition, size, and shape of the nanoclays and their toxicological profiles in conditions that mimic exposure in manufacturing and disposal environments, respectively, and can help aid in safe-by-design manufacturing of nanoclays with user-controlled functionalization and lower toxicity levels when food packaging applications are considered.

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