Fullerenes have gained considerable attention due to their anti-oxidant and radical scavenging properties. Their current applications include targeted drug delivery, energy application, polymer modifications and cosmetic products. The production of fullerenes and their use in consumer products is expected to increase in future. This study aims to investigate the feasibility and challenges associated with conducting a human health risk assessment for fullerenes based on the open literature, utilising an approach similar to that of a classical regulatory risk assessment. Available data relates to different types of fullerenes (with varying size, surface chemistry, solubility, aggregation/agglomeration) and care should therefore be taken when drawing general conclusions across the parameters. Pristine fullerenes have shown low toxicity and there is probably no risks expected for humans exposed to fullerenes in the workplace under good hygiene conditions. The main concern for consumers is exposure via direct dermal application of fullerenes present in cosmetics. Available studies do not indicate a short term risk from the tested fullerene types, however no extrapolation to all fullerene types and to chronic exposure can be made. In conclusion, the current dataset on fullerenes in relation to both, human exposure and hazard is limited and does not allow reaching any definite conclusions suitable for regulatory decision making. Main future work should focus on generating occupational and consumer exposure data, as well as suitable data on toxicokinetics and potential toxic effects following repeated inhalation and dermal exposure allowing to determine a NOAEL. It seems also relevant to clarify whether certain fullerene types may potentially induce genotoxic and/or carcinogenic effects via physiologically relevant routes.
- Risk assessment
- Data gaps