John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé

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Carbon nanotubes in the environment and their potential ecotoxicity: Context and state of the art Volume 8, issue 1, Janvier-Février 2009

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Laboratoire d’écologie fonctionnelle EcoLab Écotoxicologie et génotoxicologie environnementale UMR-UPS-INPT-CNRS 5245 Campus INP-ENSAT Avenue de l’Agrobiopole 31326 Toulouse France, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche et d’ingénierie des matériaux (Cirimat) UMR-UPS-INPT-CNRS 5085 Université Paul-Sabatier Bâtiment 2R1 118, route de Narbonne 31062 Toulouse cedex 09 France
  • Key words: carbon nanotubes, ecotoxicology, fullerenes
  • DOI : 10.1684/ers.2009.0215
  • Page(s) : 47-55
  • Published in: 2009

Of the numerous existing nanomaterials, carbon nanotubes (CNTs), with a worldwide production of a few hundreds of tons per year, have a vast potential for applications due to their outstanding properties. Although investigation of their toxicity to human health has only recently begun, abundant literature already indicates that it is difficult to demonstrate their safety. The study of their potential impact on ecosystems and the species living in them, however, is notable mainly for its absence. It looks quite likely that CNTs will be disseminated into the environment during their life-cycle (from production through use in commercial products and then disposal). Accordingly, it is essential to investigate the risks they may pose for biological species in the areas affected by and concentrating this pollution. In this context, and taking into account the very limited amount of information available in France, Europe or international levelly, this review is aimed mainly at describing the state of the art on the topic of the ecotoxicological effects of CNTs in aquatic organisms. The current situation highlights the importance of an overview of the available research and corresponds to a real societal demand for information. This review seeks to serve as an engine in this almost unexplored research field – the ecotoxicity of CNTs and especially their impact on aquatic organisms. Available studies show a variety of toxic effects related to the ingestion of CNTs present in the water to which these organisms are exposed.