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April 20, 2010

NIOSH Announces Publication Of Research Paper On Biodegradation Of Carbon Nanotubes

Lynn L. Bergeson

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced that laboratory studies, reported in a paper posted online by the journal Nature Nanotechnology on April 4, 2010, discovered that carbon nanotubes were biodegraded by an enzyme found in white blood cells, neutrophils.  According to NIOSH, the researchers demonstrated that, unlike carbon nanotubes that were not biodegraded in this way, the biodegraded nanotubes did not cause inflammation in the lungs of mice.  NIOSH states that the results are important for scientists in evaluating the biological effects of carbon nanotubes, particularly their fate and role in inflammation, and that more research would be needed for determining the applicability of the findings in assessing potential risk in occupational exposures.