The European Union (EU) Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON) announced on December 7, 2022, publication of a June 2022 report by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) entitled Assessment of the potential impact of graphene, graphene oxide and other 2D materials on health, and the environment. Commissioned by EUON, the report provides a systematic review and critical assessment of the health and environmental effects of graphene, graphene oxide, and other two-dimensional (2D) materials, based on existing public information. The key research questions addressed can be divided into two groups:
- Structured literature review: potential adverse effects of graphene, graphene oxide, and other 2D materials on human health and available methods for their assessment; and
- Structured literature review: potential adverse effects of graphene, graphene oxide, and other 2D materials on the environment and available methods for their assessment.
The systematic review covered publications, books, research reports, and research and review papers. The report includes the following conclusions and recommendations:
Conclusion 1: It is mandatory to provide in any study a thorough characterization of each type of graphene and 2D material in terms of chemical composition, structure, lateral size, and number of layers to link any identified concern during use and disposal with the particular characteristic of the material. Not all 2D materials are graphene alike.
Conclusion 2: There is a strong need for specific and multiple analytical and spectroscopic methods for the detection and quantification of graphene and related carbon nanomaterials in biological and environmental matrices.
Conclusion 3: Evidenced human and environmental toxic effects of graphene and 2D materials depend on their physicochemical characteristics.
Conclusion 4: Cytotoxic effects have been identified for specific graphene and 2D materials both on health and the environment, mainly dose dependent.
Conclusion 5: Long-term/chronic studies are still limited, particularly for in vivo and repeated-dose administrations.
Conclusion 6: Studies using immune-suppressed or diseased models are still lacking, particularly for in vivo and repeated-dose administrations.
Conclusion 7: Studies on genotoxicity of graphene and 2D materials are still very limited.
Conclusion 8: Toxicity studies of chemically exfoliated graphene and 2D materials lack appropriate controls.