Carbon nanomaterials damage rat DNA.

Dec 12, 2008

Folkmann JK, L Risom, NR Jacobsen, H Wallin, S Loft and P Møller. 2008. Oxidatively damaged DNA in rats exposed by oral gavage to C60 fullerenes and single-walled carbon nanotubes. Environmental Health Perspectives doi:10.1289/ehp.11922.

Synopsis by Stacey L. Harper

A single exposure to carbon-based nanomaterials can damage DNA in a rat's sensitive liver and lung tissue, raising health concerns for people exposed through work and consumer products.

Danish researchers report that very small carbon particles, called fullerenes, and elongated tubes of carbon, called nanotubes, can enter mammalian cells and damage their DNA. The type of damage caused can lead to cancer.

The changes were observed in the tissues 24 hours after solutions containing the particles were introduced into the rats' stomachs.

The scientists found that mechanisms that cells use to repair DNA damage were unaffected.  That means that the nanoparticle's toxicity was due directly to DNA injury, instead of reduced capacity for repairing DNA damage.

While nanomaterials hold future promise for use in electronics, cosmetics, cleaning materials and medicines, these results raise concerns about worker and consumer safety.  Some consumer products already contain carbon nanotubes and fullerenes, and many others are being developed.