Carbon nanomaterials have been studied as superior sorbents for their potential environmental applications to remove pollutants such as organic pollutants, metals, fluorides and radionuclides. Most of these studies focused on the adsorption process and few dealt with the interfacial interactions of organic contaminants with carbon nanomaterials in aqueous media. However, understanding their desorption behavior as well is critical to evaluating environmental and health impacts of carbon nanomaterials. New research looks at the high adsorption capacity and reversible adsorption of PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), many of which are suspected carcinogens, on CNTs. The findings imply the potential release of PAHs if PAH-adsorbed CNTs are inhaled by animals and humans, leading to a high environmental and public health risk.
A new study by Swedish researchers shows that gold nano spheres with a diameter of 7 nm, produced in a conventional laboratory surrounding, activate human antigen presenting dendritic cells (DCs) to induce proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), mixed with either allergenic or autologous DCs. This effect was found to be due to endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS) contamination of the nanoparticles. When particles were produced in a controlled way eliminating endotoxin contamination, the activation of the DCs did not take place.
The use of nanoparticles in sunscreens is one of the most common uses of nanotechnology in consumer products. Well over 300 sunscreens on the market today contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide nanoparticles.
A new toxicological study of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) doped with nitrogen found clear differences in the toxicological aspects and biocompatibility compared to multiwalled or singlewalled CNTs, indicating that they might be more advantageous for bioapplications.
Addressing the potential hazards associated with nanomaterials requires a comprehensive approach to gaining, collecting and publishing knowledge about individual nanomaterials. Expanding MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) into nMSDS for nanomaterials could be a way to accomplish this.
Notwithstanding all the recent publicity about the presumed or actual toxicity of nanomaterials, the detailed pharmacological knowledge of any nanomaterial is important in order to assess its level of toxicity in the living body. While in vivo toxicity assessment of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) is still at the early stage, research in this area is well underway.
There is universal consensus among scientists and researchers that more work is needed on all of the new carbon nanomaterials that have been developed over the past years to adequately assess their toxicity and health risks. A recent review addresses the current status, trends and perspectives of this issue.