While small doses of Carbon Black (CB) do not cause any damage, very high doses can cause tumors of the lung.


In principle, Carbon Black can get into the organism via all entry portals such as the lung, the intestinal tract, and the skin (if it is injured). Most frequently, Carbon Black is taken up by the respiratory tract. It was found that high doses of inhaled Carbon Black do not cause damage to human organisms and the organisms of animals [1]. Only very high doses can cause damage to the lung or lead to tumors of the lung in the extreme case.


In long-term studies where rats were made to inhale high doses of up to 1,1 mg/cm3 of Carbon Black for six hours/day on five days/week over 13 weeks with convalescence periods of three and eight weeks, no harmful effects were observed to occur. Only at still higher concentrations (> 2,5 mg/cm3), cell and tissue damage through to lung tumors were found to occur in the animals [2].

While in the case of inhalation, test animals are made to take in particles through the nose for a certain period of time, a particle suspension is instilled in the nasopharyngeal zone during instillation. Very high doses of nanoscaled Carbon Black administered by instillation cause an increase in the leukocytes [3] which are known to be inflammation tracers. Extreme doses can cause tissue damage and, moreover, strongly impair the phagocytosis capability of the macrophages [4]. Lungs of mice instilled with Carbon Black (0,1 - 0,5 mg/lung), however, did not show any signs of inflammation. Deposits of the particles showed as local black spots in the lung tissue [5].

Literature arrow down

  1. Gilmour, PS et al. (2004), Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, 195(1): 35-44.
  2. Driscoll, KE et al. (1996), Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, 136(2): 372-380.
  3. Brown, DM et al. (2000), Occup Environ Med, 57(10): 685-691.
  4. Renwick, LC et al. (2004), Occup Environ Med, 61(5): 442-447.
  5. Lam, CW et al. (2004), Toxicol Sci, 77(1): 126-134.


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