PubMed | U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, University of Rochester, West Virginia University and c Applied Research Associates
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of toxicology and environmental health. Part B, Critical reviews | Year: 2015
Carbon nanotubes (CNT) and nanofibers (CNF) are used increasingly in a broad array of commercial products. Given current understandings, the most significant life-cycle exposures to CNT/CNF occur from inhalation when they become airborne at different stages of their life cycle, including workplace, use, and disposal. Increasing awareness of the importance of physicochemical properties as determinants of toxicity of CNT/CNF and existing difficulties in interpreting results of mostly acute rodent inhalation studies to date necessitate a reexamination of standardized inhalation testing guidelines. The current literature on pulmonary exposure to CNT/CNF and associated effects is summarized; recommendations and conclusions are provided that address test guideline modifications for rodent inhalation studies that will improve dosimetric extrapolation modeling for hazard and risk characterization based on the analysis of exposure-dose-response relationships. Several physicochemical parameters for CNT/CNF, including shape, state of agglomeration/aggregation, surface properties, impurities, and density, influence toxicity. This requires an evaluation of the correlation between structure and pulmonary responses. Inhalation, using whole-body exposures of rodents, is recommended for acute to chronic pulmonary exposure studies. Dry powder generator methods for producing CNT/CNF aerosols are preferred, and specific instrumentation to measure mass, particle size and number distribution, and morphology in the exposure chambers are identified. Methods are discussed for establishing experimental exposure concentrations that correlate with realistic human exposures, such that unrealistically high experimental concentrations need to be identified that induce effects under mechanisms that are not relevant for workplace exposures. Recommendations for anchoring data to results seen for positive and negative benchmark materials are included, as well as periods for postexposure observation. A minimum data set of specific bronchoalveolar lavage parameters is recommended. Retained lung burden data need to be gathered such that exposure-dose-response correlations may be analyzed and potency comparisons between materials and mammalian species are obtained considering dose metric parameters for interpretation of results. Finally, a list of research needs is presented to fill data gaps for further improving design, analysis, and interpretation and extrapolation of results of rodent inhalation studies to refine meaningful risk assessments for humans.