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Computer materials pose health risks

A material used in computer technology could pose health risks to those involved in its manufacture, according to scientists.

Nanoplatelets, made from thin layers of the carbon graphene, are said to be used for their super-conductive properties. The flexibility of the disc-shaped particles mean they can be readily incorporated into plastic and rubber, and are used to enhance the electronic properties of touch screens.

However, scientists at the University of Edinburgh have found that the particles could be harmful when they enter the lungs.

The nanoplatelets, which are less than one carbon atom thick and invisible to the naked eye, behave like tiny Frisbees and stay airborne.

But researchers said their aerodynamic properties mean that when inhaled, they can find their way deeper into the lungs than other forms of graphene, meaning they could accumulate in the lungs and cause damage.

Professor Ken Donaldson, chair of respiratory toxicology at the University of Edinburgh, said: "We need to further assess the potential hazards posed by nanoplatelets made of graphene and other materials, so that appropriate health and safety measures can be put in place for those involved in their manufacture."

The study, which looked at the aerodynamic and toxic properties of graphene-based nanoplatelets, has been published in the journal ACS Nano.

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