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Mitsui & Co., Ltd. (Mitsui)announced today a new collaboration between the Company and the National
Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) focused on the safety of carbon nanotubes (CNT).
CNT, representing a new class of engineered nanomaterials, are being
proposed for multiple uses in the production of new and improved products
that will greatly impact the fields of electronics, transportation and
medicine, among others. To date, the biological activity of various forms
of CNT has not been completely investigated, and a systematic evaluation of
the relationship between physicochemical properties of the many types of
CNT and toxicological potential has not been conducted.
A workshop entitled "Health Risks of Carbon Nanotubes: What Can We
Learn From Mineral Fibers or Ultra-fine Particulates?" held on March 26,
2007 at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) annual meeting, brought together
experts from industry, academia, and governmental institutions to present
the status of current toxicological and exposure data on CNT, identify
knowledge gaps, and outline future directions. Current information
concerning the biological activity of single-walled CNT was presented and
compared with preliminary findings (intensive qualitative results) on
multi-walled CNT. NIOSH investigators are conducting studies of in vivo
(animal) responses, while the EPA is investigating biological activity
using in vitro (test tube) models. At the SOT Workshop, NIOSH presented its
preliminary results for multi-walled CNT, which showed that CNT does not
behave like known mineral fibers such as asbestos. The workshop
participants agreed that the biological evaluation must be conducted using
well-characterized CNT such as Mitsui MWNT-7 as mentioned by NIOSH and
Mitsui and Rice University (Rice) have initiated active collaborations
with scientists at NIOSH and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to
evaluate the biological activity of CNT. Mitsui and Rice are providing
well- characterized samples of multi-walled CNT (provided by Mitsui) and
single- walled CNT (provided by Rice) manufactured by chemical vapor
deposition (CVD) processes for such studies.
In addition, Mitsui is collaborating with scientists at Shinshu
University in Japan to evaluate the biological activity of a
well-characterized CNT sample, Mitsui MWCNT-7.
"Safety for innovative materials such as CNT is essential to providing
a substantial benefit to human society," said Morinobu Endo, Professor of
Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Shinshu
University. "I am pleased that Mitsui's work with Rice University is
already resulting in positive preliminary results that will help promote
nanotechnology and may allow for substantial industrialization in a few
As more complete data are obtained, Mitsui is committed to rapidly
disseminating the results so that up-to-date information is available to
industry, consumers, and regulatory officials. In the meantime, Mitsui has
developed a closed manufacturing system for multi-walled CNT and has
installed exhaust and waste treatment systems in the production process.
Workplace measurements by the National Environmental Institution in Japan
confirm the effectiveness of such controls. In addition, Mitsui recommends
to its customers that prudent safety practices be incorporated in the
shipment and handling of CNT as outlined in the NIOSH document "Approach to
Safe Nanotechnology: An Information Exchange with NIOSH."
Mitsui is pleased to be collaborating with the scientific community to
obtain information concerning the bioactivity of multi-walled CNT in an
effort to assure the safe manufacture and commercialization of this
About Mitsui & Co., LTD
MITSUI & CO., LTD. (Mitsui) is one of the world's most diversified and
comprehensive trading, investment, and service enterprises. Headquartered
in Tokyo, Japan, Mitsui maintains a global network of 172 offices in 72
countries, and has 582 subsidiaries and associated companies worldwide.
The Company's main businesses include sales, manufacturing, export /
import, international trade and services in the following fields: metal
products and minerals, machinery, electronics and information, chemicals,
energy, consumer products and services such as retail, foods, textiles &
fashion, general merchandise and various other areas, along with financial
markets and logistics & transportation.
Mitsui is engaged in diversifying services, as it explores and develops
natural resources, while making commercial investments in the development
of technologies for new businesses, and much more.
For more information, please click here
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