The wide application and production of nanotechnology have increased the interest in studying the toxicity of nano- and micro-sized particles escaping into air from various aspects of the production process. Metal oxides (MOs) are one particular class of particles that exist abundantly in ambient PM. Studies show an emphasis on biological mechanisms by which inhalation exposure to MOs leads to disease. However, different biological assays provide different redox activity rankings making it difficult to assess the contributions of various MOs to measures of aggregate toxicity in multi-pollutant systems such as ambient PM. Therefore, research to evaluate the chemical interaction between these particles and molecules that are relevant to cellular redox activity can help in establishing indicators of reactivity. In particular, this study assesses the redox activity of six MOs mainly emitted from anthropogenic industrial activities using the dithiothreitol (DTT) assay. DTT is commonly used in acellular assays due to its analogous structure to cellular glutathione. The structural and chemical behaviors between active MOs and DTT were elucidated using FTIR, NMR, and BET methods. The results indicate that the health risk (redox activity) associated with MOs is mainly a function of their surface reactivity demonstrated by the ability of the oxidized (S-H) bond in DTT to form a stable bond with the MO surface.