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VeilleNanos - Risks associated with carbon nanotubes

Risks associated with carbon nanotubes

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Risks associated with carbon nanotubes

By the AVICENN team – Last added March 2022

Because of their long, fibrous form, which is reminiscent of asbestos, carbon nanotubes raised strong concerns about their toxicity very early on.

After many years, and a 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 multiwall carbon (nano)tubes . This includes those with a diameter ≥ 30 nm and < 3 μm, a length ≥ 5 μm and a width to height ratio > 3:1Cf1. 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.

A look back at previous episodes:

In May 2014, the French Health Security Agency (ANSES) had recommended a classification of carbon nanotubes as hazardous substances so that measures could be put in place to restrict their use or even ban their use in certain consumer applications.

In 2015, the Société pour l’étude, la protection et l’aménagement de la nature dans le Sud-Ouest (SEPANSO) alerted on the risks linked to the production of carbon nanotubes by Arkema in Mont (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) by asking for the stopping of the productions until the harmlessness of nanos is established for the employees, the consumers and the environment2Cf. Mont: carbon nanotubes in the crosshairs of the Sepanso, La République des Pyrénées, February 25, 2015; see also ANSES, Avis relatif à “l’évaluation des risques liés au GRAPHISTRENGTH C100 réalisée dans le cadre du programme Genesis”, November 28, 2013.

In November 2019, carbon nanotubes are the first nanomaterials to be integrated into the SinListA list of substances to be replaced urgently because they are too dangerous3Cf. 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.

That same month, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work had 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 minimizing worker exposure to carbon nanotubes4Cf. Sweden: protecting workers from potentially hazardous carbon nanotubes in manufacturing, OSHA Europe, November 2, 2019.

In July 2020, ECHA published an assessment report on multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), the tube-shaped and entangled synthetic graphite, conducted by the German Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA)5Cf. 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 by 1 January 2020 under REACH had not yet been (sufficiently) filled in by 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 may decide whether additional information is needed. ECHA is urging registrants to update their dossiers and/or develop testing proposals to comply with REACH requirements.

In the United States, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued several Significant New Use Regulations (SNURs) for carbon nanotubes, requiring anyone wishing to manufacture, import, or process, for commercial purposes, these carbon nanotubes to notify the EPA at least 90 days before :

In 2021, carbon nanotubes have been identified as one of the four most risky categories of nanomaterials by a team from University College Dublin8Cf. 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.

Elsewhere on the web

In French :

In English:

A comment, a question? This sheet realized by AVICENN is intended to be completed and updated. Please feel free to contribute.

The next nano meetings

NanoSafe conference 2023 (CEA, Grenoble)
  • 8th International Conference on Health Issues for a Responsible Approach to Nanomaterials
  • From June 5 to 9, 2023
  • Organizer: French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission(CEA)
  • Website:…
How the world deals with Materials on the Nanoscale – Responsible Use and Challenges (OECD-BMUV, Berlin)
  • International Conference from June 22 to 23, 2023
  • Organizers: OECD, German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection(BMUV)
  • Website: https: //…
São Paulo School of Advanced Science on Nanotechnology, Agriculture & Environment (SPSAS NanoAgri&Enviro, São Paulo)
São Paulo
  • From July 3 to 15, 2023 in São Paulo
  • Organizer: FABESP
  • Application from November 18 to February 05. Registration fees and travel expenses are covered.
  • Speakers: see the complete program here.

This sheet was originally created in December 2013

Notes & références

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