Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Charles A. Bleckmann, PhD


Nanomaterials, which are by definition in the 1 - 100 nanometer range, have numerous possible benefits to society, but currently there is a lack of data that characterizes these materials effects on human health and environment. In general nanomaterials are of interest to the Air Force because of their applications in electronics, sensors, munitions and energetic/reactive systems. Nanoparticles such as aluminum have been considered for enhancing propulsion in solid rocket fuel. To date, only a few studies have looked at the toxicological effects of direct exposure to nanoparticles, none with aluminum. It is important to increase the understanding of the nanomaterial exposure health impact before these materials are throughout diverse levels of occupations or fully used in large capacities within industry and the military. The purpose of this research is to observe and characterize the in vitro cellular effects of rat lung macrophages to exposure to aluminum oxide nanoparticles (Al2O3-NP) (30 and 40nm) compared to aluminum nanoparticles (AlNP) (50, 80, and 120nm). This study concentrates on cell viability, mitochondrial function, phagocytosis ability, and cytokine response. Results indicate no to minimal toxicological effects on macrophages exposed as high as 500 µg/ml for 24 hours with Al2O3-NP. However, there was a significant delayed toxicity that occurred at 96 and 144 h post exposure. Al-NP indicate sight to moderate toxicity after 24 h exposure at 100 and 250 µg/ml. The phagocytic ability of these cells was significantly hindered by exposure to each size of the Al-NP at 25 µg/ml for 24 hours, but not by the Al2O3-NP. A series of cytokine and nitric oxide assays performed show none of these aluminum nanoparticles are inducing an inflammatory response.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number