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VigilNanos - Risks associated with carbon nanotubes

Risks associated with carbon nanotubes

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Risks associated with carbon nanotubes

By AVICENN Team – Last Added March 2022

Because of their long, fibrous shape reminiscent of asbestos, carbon nanotubes raised serious concerns about their toxicity very early on.

After many years, and one last consultation during the summer of 2021, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) validated in March 2022 the classification as carcinogenic by inhalation (cat. 1B) of long multi-walled carbon (nano)tubes. This applies to those with a diameter ≥ 30 nm and < 3 μm, a length ≥ 5 μm and an aspect ratio > 3:11See Echa's Rac agrees to carcinogenic classification for multi-walled carbon tubes, Chemical Watch, March 23, 2022 . This classification follows the submission of a dossier by Germany for the inclusion of the substance in Annex VI of the CLP Regulation.

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In May 2014, the French Health Security Agency (ANSES) recommended a classification of carbon nanotubes as dangerous substances so that measures can be put in place to restrict the use or even ban the use of certain applications for the general public.

In 2015, the Society for the study, protection and development of nature in the South-West (SEPANSO) warned of the risks associated with the production of carbon nanotubes by Arkema in Mont (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) in asking for production to stop until the harmlessness of nanos is established for employees, consumers and the environment2See Mont: carbon nanotubes in the crosshairs of Sepanso, The Republic of the Pyrenees, February 25, 2015; see also ANSES, Opinion relating to "the risk assessment related to GRAPHISTRENGTH C100 carried out within the framework of the Genesis program", Nov. 28 2013.

In November 2019, carbon nanotubes are the first nanomaterials to integrate the SinList, list of substances to be replaced urgently because they are too dangerous3See With its SinList, the NGO ChemSec alerts a non-expert public to chemical risks, Novethic, November 2019 and New chemicals on the SIN List challenge the global supply chain, ChemSec, November 2019.

In the same month, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work awarded the 2018-2019 Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Award to Atlas Copco Industrial Technique, a Swedish manufacturing company that has taken a precautionary approach to minimize worker exposure to carbon nanotubes4See Sweden: protection of workers against potentially dangerous carbon nanotubes in the manufacturing sector, OSHA Europe, November 2, 2019.

In July 2020, ECHA published an assessment report on Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes (MWCNT), the tube-shaped and entangled synthetic graphite, carried out by the German Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA)5See SUBSTANCE EVALUATION CONCLUSION as required by REACH Article 48 and EVALUATION REPORT for Multi-walled Carbon Nanotubes (MWCNT), synthetic graphite in tubular shape and tangled, BAuA / ECHA, July 2020. The report points out that the information required on January 1, 2020 under REACH had not yet been (sufficiently) fulfilled by the registrants and that additional measures are therefore necessary, starting with a compliance check. Once the data required by REACH is provided by the companies, ECHA can decide if additional information is needed. ECHA urges registrants to update their dossiers and/or develop testing proposals to comply with REACH requirements.

In the United States, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published several significant new use regulations (SNURs) for carbon nanotubes, requiring anyone wishing to manufacture, import or process, at commercial purposes, these carbon nanotubes that it notifies the EPA at least 90 days before:

In 2021, carbon nanotubes have been identified as one of the four categories of nanomaterials most at risk by a team from University College Dublin8See A semiquantitative risk ranking of potential human exposure to engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) in Europe, Li, Y and Cummins, E, Science of the Total Environment, 778, July 2021.

Explore the bibliography below to learn more.

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This sheet was originally created in December 2013

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