In Vivo Toxicity Assessment of Occupational Components of the Carbon Nanotube Life Cycle to Provide Context to Potential Health Effects

Publication Information:

Bishop, L., Cena, L., Orandle, M., Yanamala, N., Dahm, M.M., Birch, M.E., Evans, D.E., Kodali, V.K., Eye, T., Battelli, L., Zeidler-Erdely, P.C., Casuccio, G., Bunker, K., Lupoi, J.S., Lersch, T.L., Stefaniak, A.B., Sager, T., Afshari, A., Schwegler-Berry, D., Friend, S., Kang, J., Siegrist, K.J., Mitchell, C.A., Lowry, D.T., Kashon, M.L., Mercer, R.R., Geraci, C.L., Schubauer-Berigan, M.K., Sargent, L.M., & Erdely, A. (2017). In Vivo Toxicity Assessment of Occupational Components of the Carbon Nanotube Life Cycle To Provide Context to Potential Health Effects, ACS Nano, available at

Year: 2017


Pulmonary toxicity studies on carbon nanotubes focus primarily on as-produced materials and rarely are guided by a life cycle perspective or integration with exposure assessment. Understanding toxicity beyond the as-produced, or pure native material, is critical, due to modifications needed to overcome barriers to commercialization of applications. In the first series of studies, the toxicity of as-produced carbon nanotubes and their polymer-coated counterparts was evaluated in reference to exposure assessment, material characterization, and stability of the polymer coating in biological fluids. The second series of studies examined the toxicity of aerosols generated from sanding polymer-coated carbon-nanotube-embedded or neat composites. Postproduction modification by polymer coating did not enhance pulmonary injury, inflammation, and pathology or in vitro genotoxicity of as-produced carbon nanotubes, and for a particular coating, toxicity was significantly attenuated. The aerosols generated from sanding composites embedded with polymer-coated carbon nanotubes contained no evidence of free nanotubes. The percent weight incorporation of polymer-coated carbon nanotubes, 0.15% or 3% by mass, and composite matrix utilized altered the particle size distribution and, in certain circumstances, influenced acute in vivo toxicity. Our study provides perspective that, while the number of workers and consumers increases along the life cycle, toxicity and/or potential for exposure to the as-produced material may greatly diminish.