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November 27, 2019

ChemSec Adds Carbon Nanotubes to SIN List

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec) announced on November 14, 2019, that it added more chemicals, including carbon nanotubes, to its Substitute It Now! (SIN) List.  ChemSec describes carbon nanotubes as “one of the more well-studied nanomaterials” and notes that “they are used to make durable, lightweight materials, for electrical conductivity, as a super black pigment and for water purification, among other uses.”  Dr. Anna Lennquist, Project Manager for the SIN List at ChemSec, states:  “Several studies have shown that carbon nanotubes cause lung cancer.  The small tubes induce inflammation in a somewhat similar way to asbestos.  Reprotoxic properties have also been observed.  Up until now, the debate about the safety of nano has focused on the fact that more research is needed.  However, here is a perfect example of where there is enough science to say that these materials should not be used.”  ChemSec’s questions and answers (Q&A) regarding the SIN List include the following Q&A:

Why have you only decided to include carbon nanotubes?  What about other nanomaterials?

For anything we put on the SIN List, we need to be able to defend our decision to call this a Substance of Very High Concern.  This means that we both need to be scientifically certain about the hazardous properties and also that the hazardous properties need to correspond to the REACH SVHC criteria and be relevant for regulation.  Another reason for only including carbon nanotubes is that we, today, unfortunately do not have enough data on hazardous properties for many nanomaterials.

Anna Lennquist, Senior Toxicologist at ChemSec