Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Germany)  [Printer-friendly version]
March 31, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: The German government has issued a warning
about household sprays that contain nano particles. Nano particles
are one-ten-thousandth the diameter of a human hair and have never
been tested for safety, yet they have been put into household
products -- a kind of medical experiment on humans. Now the results
of the experiment have begun to come in. Good luck identifying
products containing nano particles -- in the U.S. they're not

By the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment [Germany]

Sealing sprays for glass and ceramics containing moisture-repellant
nano particles and a propellant should not be used in confined spaces.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment [in Germany] has good reason
for pointing this out. In a short space of time the poison control and
treatment centres of the federal states have reported 39 cases
involving serious health disorders following the use of household
products of this kind. All the people involved complained of
respiratory distress. In six cases pulmonary oedemas were diagnosed
which had to be treated in hospital.

Sealing sprays with nano particles for ceramic and glass surfaces are
a new type of household chemical. In the bathroom and toilet they are
said to make surfaces water and dirt-repellent. Liquids are said to
trickle off without leaving behind any rings or lime spots. This
product is sold in pump bottles and aerosol cans.

Some users suffered severe health disorders after using aerosol cans.
It seems they had inhaled components of the spray which had remained
in the ambient air as fine particles of the aerosol. The particles
from the spray may have disrupted the function of the alveolar and
bronchial tissue in the lungs and, by extension, oxygen and moisture
exchange. This led to respiratory distress and, in severe cases, to
accumulation of water in the lungs (pulmonary oedemas).

No such incidents have been reported in conjunction with products
applied to surfaces using pump bottles.

The competent regional authorities and the poison control and
treatment centres of the federal states have since issued warnings
about two products which were sold in Penny stores according to the
manufacturers (e.g. www.giz-nord.de/php/index.php?option=
com_frontpage&Itemid=1). The incidents have also been recorded in the
European rapid alert system for non-food products RAPEX. The
distributors have launched a recall and advised against using the

As the exact cause of the health disorders has still to be
established, BfR advises all consumers, who have already purchased
nano-sealing sprays on a propellant base, not to use them in confined

No information is available as to whether other products with nano-
technological components and a propellant (e.g. shoe care products,
impregnating agents, moisture blockers, etc.) are also on the market
which may constitute a hazard. If respiratory disorders should occur
after using sprays of this kind, the consumers affected should
immediately contact a doctor or a poison control and treatment centre.
It is important to bear in mind that in order to fully understand the
situation they need to see the product used!

Because of these recent incidents BfR points out that, in accordance
with the Chemicals Act, doctors in Germany are bound to notify the BfR
Poison and Product Documentation Centre of any health impairments in
conjunction with chemical products.

BfR is working flat out to establish the cause of the occurrence of
these recent health disorders. There are plans for scientific