Q & A - How Can Nanoparticles Enter The Body?

Nanoparticles are particles less than 100 nanometers (nm) in size. To put that into perspective, one hair on your head is 80,000nm thick. 

Many products now contain and release them. They’re in skin care products, clothing, food, cookware, antibacterial products and medicine.

And they can enter your body. Mainly through 3 routes – Inhalation, ingestion and absorption through your skin.


Applying cosmetic powders and sprays to your skin releases airborne nanoparticles that you can inhale. For clothing with nanoparticles, the primary contact area is your skin. But nanoparticles are released from clothing as airborne particles that you can also inhale.

Once inhaled, they enter your respiratory system as free nanoparticles, clumps of nanoparticles, and nanoparticles within or attached to larger particles.

Although the vast majority of inhaled particles enter your lungs some also travel via the nerves in your nose to your brain and gain access to your blood, nervous system, and other organs.


You ingest nanoparticles from the food you eat because it contains nano food additives, from nanoparticles released from ceramic cookware, and because they migrate from food packaging and from many cosmetics, like toothpaste and lipstick.

Some of the nanoparticles you ingest rapidly pass out of the body. Ingested nanos also pass through your gut into your bloodstream. And some are taken up by your body and then migrate into your organs.

Absorption Through Your Skin

Nanoparticles in products you put on your skin can be absorbed into your body.  And nanoparticles in clothing can be absorbed into your body.

Studies have shown that certain nanomaterials have penetrated layers of pig skin within 24 hours of exposure. Nanoparticles are more easily absorbed into aging and damaged skin.

Nanosize particles can go where larger particles can’t. They can easily enter cells, tissues and organs like your brain, heart, kidneys and commonly the liver and spleen. Once inside your body they cause inflammation, severe damage to DNA, disrupt the function of cells and even lead to cell death.

To learn more about the dangers of nanoparticles and how you can protect yourself, check out Nanoparticles And Your Health - What You Need To Know.