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Effect Of Chemical Composition And State Of The Surface On The Toxic Response To High Aspect Ratio Nanomaterials

Bice Fubini, Ivana Fenoglio, Maura Tomatis, Francesco Turci

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Nanomaterials often act as a double sword. On the one hand they offer exceptional new properties, but on the other hand show signs of toxicity. High aspect ratio nanomaterials (HARNs) cause more concern than isometric nanoparticles owing to their physical similarity with asbestos. Many compounds may be prepared in fibrous shape with nano-sized diameter differing one from the other in various ways. This article reports a comparative picture of the chemical features and related toxic responses to a variety of HARNs, namely carbon nanotubes, asbestos, carbon nanofibers, oxide and metal wires and rods. In spite of similarities in form, durability and several biological responses elicited in vitro and in vivo, carbon nanotubes – opposite to asbestos – quench radicals, are hydrophobic and may be fully purified from metal impurities. Most of the other HARNs produced so far are metal or metal oxide compounds, less biopersistent than carbon nanotubes.