Exposure of nanoparticles to the skin is mostly related to cosmetics or pharmaceutical products, e.g. sunscreens. Usage of carbon nanotubes in comparable applications is not planned. Therefore, direct contact with the skin is currently unlikely and restricted to possible accidents or improper use.


A healthy and intact skin is a very effective mechanic barrier against nanoparticles (cross cutting- nanoparticles & skin), which was also shown for titanium dioxide particles by the European project NanoDerm [1]. To date, no transfer of nanoparticles into blood vessels across the skin could be observed and whether carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can be taken up across the skin has not been investigated until now.

© H.Bauer / fotolia.com


Nevertheless, a conclusion using an analogy might be helpful in this case:

Tattooing ink, especially black ink, contains carbon particles and is mechanically deposited via a tattoo needle in the deeper layers of the skin. From there, only very few of these particles are transported into the nearby lymphatic vessels while most of them remain in place explaining the long lifetime of tattoos. Since the surface characteristics of carbon nanotubes are very similar to those of these carbon particles, it can be inferred that transport of the CNTs via and within the skin will be very weak.




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