Indexed on: 28 Jun '16Published on: 28 Jun '16Published in: Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology
Indium tin oxide (ITO) is a technologically important semiconductor. An increasing number of cases of severe lung effects (characterized by pulmonary alveolar proteinosis and/or interstitial fibrosis) in ITO-exposed workers warrants a review of the toxicological hazards. Short- and long-term inhalation studies in rats and mice revealed persistent alveolar proteinosis, inflammation and fibrosis in the lungs down to concentrations as low as 0.01mg/m(3). In rats, the incidences of bronchiolo-alveolar adenomas and carcinomas were significantly increased at all concentrations. In mice, ITO was not carcinogenic. A few bronchiolo-alveolar adenomas occurring after repeated intratracheal instillation of ITO to hamsters have to be interpreted as treatment-related. In vitro and in vivo studies on the formation of reactive oxygen species suggest epigenetic effects as cause of the lung tumor development. Repeated intratracheal instillation of ITO to hamsters slightly affected the male sexual organs, which might be interpreted as a secondary effect of the lung damage. Epidemiological and medical surveillance studies, serum/blood indium levels in workers as well as data on the exposure to airborne indium concentrations indicate a need for measures to reduce exposure at ITO workplaces.