Carbon Black (CB) can principally be taken up through the air we breathe, by swallowing or via the skin. At present, there are no studies that investigate explicitly the release of nanoscale carbon black from products during use. Provided that the operation of a carbon black-producing factory remains undisturbed, there will be no release of nanoscale particles.

 

An epidemiological study on carbon black exposure in carbon black-producing factories in England showed that some workers after increased exposure were suffering from cough, sputum production, and a decreased lung function [1]. In Canada and the USA, another study revealed a correlation between the occurrence of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and increased carbon black exposure [2]. Besides, studies of printing ink proved the carcinogenic effect of carbon black in mists of ink [3]. A case study published in 2010 states that carbon particles from toners that have been inhaled can affect the health of the persons exposed [4].

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified carbon black used in toners into group 2B. This means that „carbon black is possibly carcinogenic to humans”[5]. However, IARC at the same time says that „there is inadequate evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of carbon black“.

Another study carried out in 2001 shows that there is no correlation between lung cancer and carbon black [6]. It seems that mixtures of the type used in toners may be more critical than pure carbon black.

Life cycle and possible release paths of nanoscale carbon black from products shown here as an example for tires. © Kuhlbusch 2010, UBA Study.Life cycle and possible release paths of nanoscale carbon black from products shown here as an example for tires. © Kuhlbusch 2010, UBA Study.

In 2004, Kuhlbusch et al. have shown that mainly carbon black-containing particles > 400 nm are released during carbon black bagging operations [7]. Further studies by the authors reveal that during carbon black production, no release of nanoscale carbon black is expected to occur under undisturbed conditions. However, a release may occur as a result of leakages or during accidents [8].

 

 

Literature arrow down

  1. Gardiner, K et al. (2001), Occup Environ Med, 58(8): 496-503.
  2. Harber, P et al. (2003), J Occup Environ Med, 45(2): 144-155.
  3. Casey, P et al. (1983), Ann Occup Hyg, 27(2): 127-135.
  4. Theegarten, D et al. (2010), Diagn Pathol, 5 77.
  5. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (2010). IARC Monograph on the Evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans, No.93: Carbon Black.
  6. Sorahan, T et al. (2001), Am J Ind Med, 39(2): 158-170.
  7. Kuhlbusch, TA et al. (2004), J Occup Environ Hyg, 1(10): 660-671.
  8. Kuhlbusch, TA et al. (2006), J Occup Environ Hyg, 3(10): 558-567.
  9. Kuhlbusch, T. (Okt 2010). Emissionen von Nanopartikeln aus ausgewählten Produkten in ihrem Lebenszyklus. UBA-Studie, Umweltbundesamt, ISSN 1862-4804. (In German)

 

 

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