Public Release:  Braking news

Particles from car brakes harm lung cells

BioMed Central

Real-life particles released by car brake pads can harm lung cells in vitro. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology found that heavy braking, as in an emergency stop, caused the most damage, but normal breaking and even close proximity to a disengaged brake resulted in potentially dangerous cellular stress.

Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser and Peter Gehr from the University of Bern, Switzerland, and Michael Riediker from the Institute for Work and Health, Lausanne, Switzerland, worked with a team of researchers to study the effects of brake particles on cultured lung cells placed in a chamber close to the axle of a car. They said, "Brake wear contributes up to 20% of total traffic emissions, but the health effects of brake particles remain largely unstudied. We've found that the metals in brake wear particles can damage junctions between cells by a mechanism involving oxidative stress".

The teams' analysis revealed that brake wear particles contain considerable amounts of iron, copper and organic carbon. Exposure to these pollutants caused increased signs of oxidative stress and inflammation in the cells, and hard braking caused most exposure. Interestingly, some exposure still occurred even when the brakes were not being applied, presumably due to residual brake particles coming off the turning axle and the braking system.

A direct comparison to other (model) particles known to cause these stress effects in vitro was not done, so comparative statements cannot yet be made. The researchers hope that future studies will be able to determine exactly which components are involved in each cell-stress pathway. According to Rothen-Rutishauser and Riediker, "Just as for exhaust particles, efforts to diminish brake particle emissions will lead to an improved ambient air quality and so could provide better protection of human health".

###

Notes to Editors:

1. Toxic effects of brake wear particles on epithelial lung cells in vitro
Michael Gasser, Michael Riediker, Loretta Mueller, Alain Perrenoud, Fabian Blank, Peter Gehr and Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser
Particle and Fibre Toxicology (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.particleandfibretoxicology.com/imedia/3870356722574831_article.pdf?random=789951

After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.particleandfibretoxicology.com/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication

2. Particle and Fibre Toxicology is an open access, peer-reviewed, online journal for new scientific data, hypotheses and reviews on the toxicological effects of particles and fibres; it functions as a forum for scientific debate and communication between toxicology and disciplines that develop (nano)particles for future applications. These include material sciences, and applications in nanomedicine, such as drug delivery and imaging.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.