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Inhal Toxicol. 2012 Oct;24(12):798-820. doi: 10.3109/08958378.2012.720741.

Multi-walled carbon nanotubes: sampling criteria and aerosol characterization.

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  • 1Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WV 26505-2888, USA.


This study intends to develop protocols for sampling and characterizing multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) aerosols in workplaces or during inhalation studies. Manufactured dry powder containing MWCNT's, combined with soot and metal catalysts, form complex morphologies and diverse shapes. The aerosols, examined in this study, were produced using an acoustical generator. Representative samples were collected from an exposure chamber using filters and a cascade impactor for microscopic and gravimetric analyses. Results from filters showed that a density of 0.008-0.10 particles per µm² filter surface provided adequate samples for particle counting and sizing. Microscopic counting indicated that MWCNT's, resuspended at a concentration of 10 mg/m³, contained 2.7 × 10⁴ particles/cm³. Each particle structure contained an average of 18 nanotubes, resulting in a total of 4.9 × 10⁵ nanotubes/cm³. In addition, fibrous particles within the aerosol had a count median length of 3.04 µm and a width of 100.3 nm, while the isometric particles had a count median diameter of 0.90 µm. A combination of impactor and microscopic measurements established that the mass median aerodynamic diameter of the mixture was 1.5 µm. It was also determined that the mean effective density of well-defined isometric particles was between 0.71 and 0.88 g/cm³, and the mean shape factor of individual nanotubes was between 1.94 and 2.71. The information obtained from this study can be used for designing animal inhalation exposure studies and adopted as guidance for sampling and characterizing MWCNT aerosols in workplaces. The measurement scheme should be relevant for any carbon nanotube aerosol.

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