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Submesothelial deposition of carbon nanoparticles after toner exposition: Case report

Dirk Theegarten1*, Smail Boukercha2, Stathis Philippou3 and Olaf Anhenn14

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Pathology and Neuropathology, University Hospital Essen, D-45122 Essen, Germany

2 Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, University Duisburg-Essen, D-45117 Essen, Germany

3 Institute of Pathology, Augusta-Hospital, University Duisburg-Essen, D-44791 Bochum, Germany

4 Department of Pneumology, West German Lung Centre at the University Hospital Essen - University Hospital, University Duisburg-Essen, D-45239 Essen, Germany

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Diagnostic Pathology 2010, 5:77  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-5-77

Published: 2 December 2010


Inhalation of carbon nanoparticles (CNP) from toner dust has been shown to have impact on the respiratory health of persons exposed. Office printers are known emitters of CNP. We report about a female open office worker who developed weight loss and diarrhoea. Laparoscopy done for suspected endometriosis surprisingly revealed black spots within the peritoneum. Submesothelial aggregates of CNP with a diameter of 31-67 nm were found by scanning and transmission electron microscopy in these tissue specimens. Colon biopsies showed inflammatory bowel disease with typically signs of Crohn disease, but no dust deposits. Transport of CNP via lymphatic and blood vessels after inhalation in the lungs has to be assumed. In this case respiratory symptoms were not reported, therefore no lung function tests were done. We have shown that workers with toner dust exposure from laser printers can develop submesothelial deposition of CNP in the peritoneum. Impact of toner dust exposure on the respiratory health of office workers, as suspected in other studies, has to be evaluated further.