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Posted: Feb 21, 2012

Graphene nanoplatelets pose potential health risk

(Nanowerk News) Ultra-thin layers of carbon called graphene - heralded for its superconductive properties - could be harmful to the lungs when produced in a particular form.
Nanoplatelet use
The flexibility of these disc-shaped particles - known as nanoplatelets - mean they can be readily incorporated into plastic and rubber.
This gives these materials new and useful properties.
The nanoplatelets can also be used to enhance the electronic properties of touch screens.
Nanoplatelets are less than one carbon atom thick and invisible to the naked eye.
Aerodynamic action
Scientists studying nanoplatelets found they behaved like tiny Frisbees, and stay airborne.
Their aerodynamic properties mean that when inhaled the nanoplatelets can find their way deeper into the lungs compared with other forms of graphene.
The particles could accumulate in the lungs and cause damage.
Impact on manufacturing industry
This could potentially affect the health of people involved in manufacturing and handling graphene-based nanoplatelets.
The study, which looked at the aerodynamic and toxic properties of graphene-based nanoplatelets, was published in the journal ACS Nano ("Graphene-Based Nanoplatelets: A New Risk to the Respiratory System as a Consequence of Their Unusual Aerodynamic Properties").
Source: University of Edinburgh
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