Estimation of an occupational exposure limit for multi-walled carbon nanotubes manufactured in Korea

Estimation of an occupational exposure limit for multi-walled carbon nanotubes manufactured in Korea
occupational exposure limit; multi-walled carbon nanotube; exposure assessment; benchmark dose; no observed adverse effect level
Issue Date
VOL 25, NO 4, 506-516
With the development of nanotechnology, nanomaterials are used in various fields. Therefore, the interest regarding the safety of nanomaterial use is increasing and much effort is diverted toward establishment of exposure assessment and management methods. Occupational exposure limits (OELs) are effectively used to protect the health of workers in various industrial workplaces. This study aimed to propose an OEL for domestic multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) based on animal inhalation toxicity test. Basic procedure for development of OELs was examined. For OEL estimation, epidemiological study and quantitative risk assessment are generally performed based on toxicity data. In addition, inhalation toxicity data-based no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) and benchmark dose (BMD) are estimated to obtain the OEL. Three different estimation processes (NEDO in Japan, NIOSH in USA, and Baytubes in Germany) of OELs for carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were intensively reviewed. From the rat inhalation toxicity test for MWCNTs manufactured in Korea, a NOAEL of 0.98 mg/㎥ was derived. Using the simple equation for estimation of OEL suggested by NEDO, the OEL of 142 μg/㎥ was estimated for the MWCNT manufacturing workplace. Here, we used test rat and Korean human data and adopted 36 as an uncertainty factor. The OEL for MWCNT estimated in this work is higher than those (2-80 μg/㎥) suggested by previous investigators. It may be greatly caused by different physicochemical properties of MWCNT and their dispersion method and test rat data. For setting of regulatory OELs in CNT workplaces, further epidemiological studies in addition to animal studies are needed. More advanced technical methods such as CNT dispersion in air and liquid should be also developed.
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