What is dangerous about carbon

12.08.2010 09:23

How dangerous are carbon nanoparticles?

Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine Press and public relations
Fraunhofer Society

The BMBF is funding the “Carbon Black” research association, in which the Fraunhofer ITEM in Hanover is also involved, with 2.5 million euros. The toxicological effects of these carbon nanoparticles will be tested here over the next three years - on human lung cell lines and lung sections as well as in animal experiments. Carbon black is used in large quantities in the production of car tires.

Carbon black is the English name for industrial soot, a material that is produced in large quantities around the world. It consists of the smallest nanoparticles and is used, for example, in the production of car tires and other plastics. A health risk from these carbon nanoparticles (CBNP) cannot yet be ruled out; the World Health Organization classifies the particles as potentially carcinogenic. With a total of 2.5 million euros, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is now funding the research association “Prediction of human toxicological effects of synthetic carbon black nanoparticles” in order to clarify to what extent the potential risk depends on the various properties of the different types of carbon black. At the Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine (ITEM) in Hanover, the toxicological effects on human lung cell lines and lung sections are tested and verified in animal models. Working groups from the University of Lübeck, the Technical University of Karlsruhe, the University of Marburg and the Borstel Research Center, which coordinates the activities, are also involved in the network.

In the next three years, the scientists in the group want to develop a multi-stage test system with which the toxic effects of various carbon black nanoparticles on the lungs and airways of humans can be determined. Because the lungs are the most important way in which the nanoparticles get into the human body from the air: humans inhale around 10,000 liters of air every day. The test system is intended to quantify the possible risk in various test systems: In lung cell cultures, lung slices (Precision Cut Lung Slices, PCLS), tissue cultures and in animal models as part of inhalation studies. Since the surface of the upper respiratory tract - trachea and bronchi - is morphologically and functionally different from the lower respiratory tract, cells and tissues from different areas are examined and evaluated in the project.

At the Fraunhofer ITEM, lung slices (PCLS) offer decisive advantages compared to other in vitro methods. This model, which has been developed in recent years, enables tests to be carried out on tissue that has different cell types, cell / cell interactions and cell polarity. The PCLS system is therefore of high biological relevance and is currently being prevalidated in another BMBF project as a replacement method for testing the toxicity of inhalable chemicals.

Ultimately, the goal of the researchers in the Carbon Black research network is to find modifications of the carbon black nanoparticles that are harmless to health and thus allow economic use without risks.

Your contact at Fraunhofer ITEM
Dr. Tanja Hansen
Clinical chemistry and toxicokinetics
Phone: 0511 5350 226
Email: [email protected]

Press contact
Karola Neubert
Phone: 0511 5350-225
Email: [email protected]

Research alliance CarbonBlack
Project partners: Research Center Borstel, Philipps University Marburg, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, University of Lübeck, Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine. Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Heinz G. Fehrenbach, Research Center Borstel; Email: [email protected]

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