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Environ Pollut. 2009 Apr;157(4):1134-9. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2008.08.013. Epub 2008 Sep 27.

C60 fullerene: a powerful antioxidant or a damaging agent? The importance of an in-depth material characterization prior to toxicity assays.

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Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research, Laboratory for Materials-Biology Interactions, St Gallen, Switzerland.


Since the discovery of fullerenes in 1985, these carbon nanospheres have attracted attention regarding their physico/chemical properties. Despite little knowledge about their impact on the environment and human health, the production of fullerenes has already reached an industrial scale. However, the toxicity of C(60) is still controversially discussed. The aim of this study was to clarify the biological effects of tetrahydrofuran (THF) suspended C(60) fullerene in comparison to water stirred C(60) fullerene suspensions. Beyond that, we analyzed the effects on the Crustacea Daphnia magna an indicator for ecotoxicological effects and the human lung epithelial cell line A549 as a simplified model for the respiratory tract. We could demonstrate that water-soluble side products which were formed in THF nC(60) suspension were responsible for the observed acute toxic effects, whereas fullerenes themselves had no negative effect regardless of the preparative route on either A549 cell in vitro or D. magna in vivo.

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