How concerned should we be about graphene's toxicity?

The potential toxicity of graphene and graphene oxide has been on people's minds lately. This is an area that has always received some attention, but recently there have been rumors and wild speculations about the adoption of graphene oxide and the risks involved.

Grapene toxicity poll results (August 2021)

Researchers have been studying the toxicity of graphene and graphene oxide for many years. While these materials have not yet been established as completely safe for use, there are quite a few research results that indicate that graphene can be relatively safe under the appropriate conditions.

Health Canada decides Shandong's graphene face masks pose no health risk, still does not permit the sale of other graphene masks

Health Canada recently decided that the sale of certain graphene-enhanced face masks that were considered a hazard due to their graphene content can resume, after the agency assessed the masks and found "no health risks of concern."

Health Canada issued an advisory in April asking all distributors selling masks with graphene or biomass graphene to recall their products over potential inhalation risks after preliminary assessments made the agency fear a potential for inhaled graphene particles to cause lung effects, such as inflammation, in animals. These concerns made somewhat of an impact with consumers and producers alike, and various graphene-enhanced face masks responded to these claims.

Directa Plus says new research supports the use of its graphene nano-materials in COVID face masks

Directa Plus recently stated that a research paper has been published in the journal iScience, supporting the use of its ‘functionalized’ graphene as an antimicrobial material in face masks.

The peer-reviewed paper said the company's G+ nanomaterials and those from graphene oxide provide a “critical opportunity to significantly increase face mask efficacy”.

Companies respond to graphene masks "health hazard" scare

Following recent concerns surrounding the use of graphene in face masks and Health Canada's warnings of "a potential that wearers could inhale graphene particles from some masks, which may pose health risks", several companies involved in the production of such masks released their comments on the matter.

Zen Graphene Solutions, which developed a graphene-based virucidal ink and reported that it has a 99% effectiveness against COVID-19, released a statement saying that it is aware of the recent claims, and "is aligned and supportive of the steps taken to regulate the use of graphene and remove products that are unsafe for the public". It went on to state that its own products have been found safe in various "comprehensive testing". Later on, Zen also submitted various data requested by Health Canada - including final results received from Nucro-Technics on skin irritation and sensitivity that confirmed ZENGuard™ did not lead to any irritation or sensitivity.

Graphene masks deemed "potential health hazard" by Canadian authorities

Despite the surge of graphene-enhanced face masks that's been evident lately, government authorities like Health Canada recently issued warnings on the use of such graphene masks, cautioning against "a potential that wearers could inhale graphene particles from some masks, which may pose health risks."

This potential threat is followed by the directive to not use these face masks, and Health Canada, for one, is advising Canadians not to use face masks that contain graphene at all. A recent PR stated: "Until the Department completes a thorough scientific assessment and has established the safety and effectiveness of graphene-containing face masks, it is taking the precautionary approach of removing them from the market while continuing to gather and assess information. Health Canada has directed all known distributors, importers and manufacturers to stop selling and to recall the affected products. Additionally, Health Canada has written to provinces and territories advising them to stop distribution and use of masks containing graphene. The Department will continue to take appropriate action to stop the import and sale of graphene face masks".