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September 5, 2008

Friends of the Earth Australia Calls for an Immediate Moratorium on the Use of Carbon Nanotubes

Lynn L. Bergeson

In its latest Background Paper, entitled Mounting Evidence That Carbon Nanotubes May Be the New AsbestosFriends of the Earth Australia (FOEA) is calling “for an immediate moratorium on the commercial use of carbon nanotubes and the sale of products that incorporate nanotubes until research can demonstrate whether or not there is any safe level of exposure to them.”   FOEA also is calling for new nanotechnology-specific regulation to protect human health and the environment, as well as for mandatory labeling of all nanoscale materials used in the workplace and in consumer products.

FOEA’s paper summarizes various studies that have been conducted on carbon nanotubes and contends that these studies suggest “strongly that some forms of nanotubes could pose similar health risks to asbestos and that a wide range of nanotubes cause both localised and system toxic effects.” FOEA argues that suitable detection technologies to measure occupational exposure levels to nanotubes do not exist, and it decries the fact that material safety data sheets for carbon nanotubes “remain based on synthetic graphite.”