Modern day computer technologies utilize graphene in particulate forms for its semiconductive properties. According to scientists from the University of Edinburgh, graphene could risk the health of workers producing it for use in electronic devices.

Graphene is an extremely thin layer of carbon that has many useful properties for use in devices. While the semiconductive property is generally taken advantage of, there are other electronic attributes of graphene too.

According to the investigators, graphene if used in the particulate form, could be harmful to the lungs. The element is basically accessed as nanoplatelets in the manufacturing industry. These disc-shaped particles are flexible enough to be readily used in rubber and plastic.

Nano discs are also used to improve the electronic properties of touchscreens used in many devices. These substances are not visible to the naked eye as they are less than a carbon atom thick. They function just like minute Frisbees and are transmitted via air.

“We need to further assess the potential hazards posed by nanoplatelets made of graphene and other other materials, so that appropriate health and safety measures can be put in place for those involved in their manufacture,” cited Professor Ken Donaldson, Chair of Respiratory Toxicology.

When workers inhale the nano-discs while using them in devices, the particles reach deep into their lungs, unlike other forms of graphene. These elements then assemble in the lungs and apparently damage them. The harmful effect on the lungs could be attributed to the toxic and aerodynamic properties of graphene-based nanoplatelets.

However, further studies to gauge the precise effect of graphene-related nano discs are underway. The report is published in the journal, ACS Nano.