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Carbon Nanomaterials

In a January 2010 article published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers at the Environmental Laboratory, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, and the Nanotechnology Research Center, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, report on their preliminary investigation to assess the extent in which engineered carbon-based nanomaterials (“CNM”) are released into a laboratory’s atmosphere during handling. The researchers measured the release of fullerenes (C60), underivatized multiwalled carbon nanotubes (raw MWCNT), hydroxylated MWCNT (MWCNT-OH), and carbon black (CB), into the air as they weighed these materials, transferred them to beakers filled with reconstituted freshwater, and sonicated them in deionized water and reconstituted freshwater with and without the presence of natural organic matter. After correcting for background particle number concentrations, they found that airborne particle concentrations increased as a result of these activities for each CNM except when weighing CB. The researchers suggest that these findings indicate that laboratory workers experience an increased risk of exposure to engineered nanomaterials and suggest the use of protective equipment and engineering controls to minimize that exposure.1

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References:

1. Johnson, D. R et al. “Potential for Occupational Exposure to Engineered Carbon-Based Nanomaterials in Environmental Laboratory Studies” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2010 January; 118(1): 49–54.