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".

Research team examines graphene's effects on the lungs

Researchers from Empa and the Adolphe Merkle Institute (AMI) in Fribourg have conducted studies on a 3D lung model to examine the behavior of graphene and graphene-like materials once they have been inhaled.

AMI lung model imageThe lung model at Adolphe Merkle Institute (AMI)

Thanks to the 3-D lung model, the researchers have succeeded in simulating the actual conditions at the blood-air barrier and the impact of graphene on the lung tissue as realistically as possible – without any tests on animals or humans. It is a cell model representing the lung alveoli. Conventional in vitro tests work with cell cultures from just one cell type – the newly established lung model, on the other hand, bears three different cell types, which simulate the conditions inside the lung, namely alveolar epithelial cells and two kinds of immune cells – macrophages and dendritic cells.

Graphene inhalation tests show low toxicity

A team of Korean researchers recently conducted an inhalation toxicology study of graphene, as much questions have been raised on graphene's potential health and safety risks.

The study was done using a nose-only inhalation system for 28 days (6 h/day and 5 days/week) with male Sprague-Dawley rats that were then allowed to recover for 1-, 28-, and 90-day post-exposure period. Animals were separated into 4 groups (control, low, moderate, and high) with 15 male rats (5 rats per time point) in each group.

Rice scientists test nanoparticle toxicity

A recent study performed at Rice University explored the toxicity of different nanomaterials. A major difficulty in assessing nanomaterial toxicity is that there are many different varieties of nanomaterials and it is too costly to test all of them using traditional methods. The goal of the study was to develop a low-cost, high-throughput method to solve this problem.

The scientists achieved this goal by testing nanomaterials on a worm called Nematode C. Elegans. They designed assays that can test hundreds of nanomaterials in a week. These assays test the effects of each nanomaterial on thousands of worms. The material cost for each assay is only about 50 cents. As a demonstration, they applied their technology to test 20 nanomaterials and found that most of them showed some degree of toxicity. This method can serve effectively as a rapid initial screen to prioritize a few nanomaterials for more expensive, dedicated toxicology testing.

FDA grants $1.2m for graphene safety and toxicity research

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a $1.2m grant for the Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) to extend a collaborative research program focused on graphene-based nanomaterials.

The ARA stated that the research will be focused primarily on the safety and toxicity of graphene and its impact on public health. This project will be a collaborative effort between the ARA and the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR), the FDA's primary research facility. Four research universities will also take part in the research.