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Characterization and control of airborne particles emitted during production of epoxy/carbon nanotube nanocomposites.

Cena LG; Peters TM
J Occup Environ Hyg 2011 Feb; 8(2):86-92
This work characterized airborne particles generated from the weighing of bulk, multiwall carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and the manual sanding of epoxy test samples reinforced with CNTs. It also evaluated the effectiveness of three local exhaust ventilation (LEV) conditions (no LEV, custom fume hood, and biosafety cabinet) for control of particles generated during sanding of CNT-epoxy nanocomposites. Particle number and respirable mass concentrations were measured using an optical particle counter (OPC) and a condensation particle counter (CPC), and particle morphology was assessed by transmission electron microscopy. The ratios of the geometric mean (GM) concentrations measured during the process to that measured in the background (P/B ratios) were used as indices of the impact of the process and the LEVs on observed concentrations. Processing CNT-epoxy nanocomposites materials released respirable size airborne particles (P/B ratio: weighing = 1.79; sanding = 5.90) but generally no nanoparticles (P/B ratio approximately 1). The particles generated during sanding were predominantly micron sized with protruding CNTs and very different from bulk CNTs that tended to remain in large (>1 µm) tangled clusters. Respirable mass concentrations in the operator's breathing zone were lower when sanding was performed in the biological safety cabinet (GM = 0.20 µg/m(3) compared with those with no LEV (GM = 2.68 µg/m(3) or those when sanding was performed inside the fume hood (GM = 21.4 µg/m(3); p-value < 0.0001). The poor performance of the custom fume hood used in this study may have been exacerbated by its lack of a front sash and rear baffles and its low face velocity (0.39 m/sec).
Airborne-particles; Nanotechnology; Particulates; Epoxy-compounds; Exhaust-systems; Ventilation; Respiration; Microscopy; Analytical-processes; Pollutants; Dusts; Epoxy-compounds; Humans; Men; Women; Exposure-levels; Author Keywords: CNT; exposure assessment; multiwall carbon nanotubes; nanocomposite; respirable mass concentration
Thomas M. Peters, The University of Iowa, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, 102 IREH, 100 Oakdale Campus, Iowa City, IA 52242-5000
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-K01-OH-009255; Grant-Number-T42-OH-008491
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Performing Organization
University of Iowa
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division