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How do graphene and layered materials interact with the lungs?

Graphene Flagship scientists recently found that inhaling graphene oxide could have adverse effects on the lungs, depending on the size of the particles. The study shows that pulmonary exposure to graphene oxide via intranasal instillation could cause size-dependent adverse effects on the lungs, like the formation of granulomas – small areas of inflammation – in the presence of micrometer‐sized graphene oxide, as opposed to nanometer‐sized graphene oxide.

In addition, the Graphene Flagship modelled the effects of chronic occupational lung exposure to graphene and layered materials. Graphene was repeatedly exposed to human bronchial epithelial tissue, and our scientists found that continual exposure over long periods of time did not induce a significant immune response. These results suggest that graphene could be safe for long-term workplace exposure.