Research Explores Workplace Exposure to Carbon Nanotubes

Since the 1980s, the burgeoning nanomaterial field has led to a growing number
of manufacturers worldwide making and using these materials in coatings,
computers, clothing, cosmetics, sports equipment, and medical devices, among
other items. As the word "nano” implies, these materials are extremely small,
between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers in size by some definitions. Novel
chemical and physical properties occur at this scale, making nanomaterials
ideal for creating and manufacturing new or improved products. One of the most
promising is the carbon nanotube, a nano-sized cylinder comprising either pure
carbon or carbon with residual trace metal content. Available in one layer
(single-walled) or many layers (multi-walled), carbon nanotubes' unique
chemical, electrical and mechanical strengthening properties make their use
widespread in many materials in manufacturing, research, biomedicine, and other

As with any new, rapidly expanding technology, questions about health and
safety need to be resolved so that any unintended risks can be identified and
addressed. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
conducts robust research with diverse partners to better understand the
occupational health and safety implications of nanoparticles and to recommend
prudent strategies for controlling worker exposures as knowledge advances. The
following two articles summarize two published papers by NIOSH investigators
with partners at Kazan State Medical University, in Kazan, Russia, exploring
whether workplace exposure to multi-walled carbon nanotubes could pose a risk
for lung disease. For both studies, participants from the same facility in
Kazan volunteered to participate. The findings from the studies by themselves
do not answer the question of whether workplace exposure to multi-walled carbon
nanotubes would result in occupational illness. However, they support the need
for further research and underscore the importance of precautionary control measures.

More information - Source: Centre for Occupational Health and Safety