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.

We ran a poll on this issue on our social media channels (Twitter and LinkedIn), the results of which can be seen above. Over 50% of our poll respondents are either worried about graphene, or would like to see more tests. The industry should probably be aware - even if graphene is found to be generally safe for use, public perception may still delay adoption or even cause hesitance that could hinder or limit graphene adoption.

A major concern has always been the inhalation of graphene or GO particles into the lungs. In 2018, researchers from Germany used a 3D lung model to show that there's no acute lung damage from inhaled graphene particles.

In 2016, researchers from Korea used live rats and also reported no lung pathology caused by inhaling graphene.

Probably contributing to the recent graphene scare, was Health Canada's decision to ban graphene masks. Later on HC decided that the sale of graphene-enhanced face masks can resume, after the agency assessed the masks and found no health risks of concern.

It seems that more tests can help set people's minds at ease and also drive the industry towards safe use practices.

Posted: Aug 18,2021 by Ron Mertens