Mode of toxic action of nanocarbons

  • Project number: F 2376
  • Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) / Fraunhofer Gesellschaft - Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine
  • Status: Ongoing Project
  • Planned end: 2024-03-31


Nanocarbon materials belong to a category of advanced materials comprising e.g. single-wall carbon nanotubes, multi-wall carbon nanotubes and graphene. This project focuses on the toxic effects of nanocarbons. These effects are dependent on the physical shape of the respective material influencing the critical mode of its toxic action. For instance, fibrous materials have to be discriminated from granular particulate materials. In case of a material consisting of rigid fibres in respirable form an asbestos-like action has to be assumed. With respect to other, e.g. non-rigid fibres, toxicity currently has to be assessed by animal testing. It is not known, which extent of flexibility is necessary that a fibre loses an asbestos-like action. Moreover, a high biopersistence would reduce the toxic potency of nanocarbons to a relevant extent. It is as yet unclear, if and how nanoncarbons have to be chemically modified to reduce the general high biopersistence of these materials in biological systems.

This project aims to answer open questions with respect to the mode of toxic action of nanocarbons by carrying out adequate and targeted toxicological studies. Up to ten representative market-relevant materials shall be studied. The aim is to describe the toxicity of these materials qualitatively and quantitatively. It will be aimed at finding parameters influencing the biopersistence of nanocarbons. These studies shall contribute to the development of an assessment strategy to be established in a further project.

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