In man, repeated high oral doses of vegetable carbon have traditionally been used therapeutically, without obvious adverse effect. Studies of workers exposed to carbon blacks revealed respiratory symptoms including impaired lung function arising from deposition of dust in the lungs. Surveys of carbon black workers have not permitted any firm conclusions on carcinogenicity to be drawn.

Carbon black caused irritation in the rabbit eye and affected the respiratory tract of laboratory animals exposed by inhalation. The acute oral toxicity was low in rats. Studies with industrial carbon blacks in mice produced no evidence of toxicity at very high repeated oral doses but a Polish study reported damage to the liver, lungs and kidneys of rats. Lung damage and effects on the liver, spleen, kidneys and heart have been seen in monkeys, mice, rats and guinea-pigs inhaling high concentrations for long periods. Damage to the liver, lungs and kidneys was reported following dermal application in rats. Animal studies involving exposure by oral, inhalation, dermal or injection routes gave no convincing evidence that carbon black itself is carcinogenic, though a co-carcinogenic effect was demonstrated in rats receiving a high-fat diet and a known colon carcinogen. Contaminants extracted from carbon black have shown carcinogenic activity, but body fluids can only elute these contaminants to a limited extent. Demonstration of genotoxicity in a range of short-term screening tests was, in some studies, related to the level of contamination in the test material.

Date of Publication: 1990

Number of Pages: 11

CAS Number*: 1333-86-4

Format: PDF available for immediate download

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