Carbon fibres (CF) and CF-reinforced plastics (CFRPs) are innovative materials, which are increasingly produced, recycled and disposed, possibly releasing particles and fibres. As the fibrous shape of treated CF raises serious concerns about potentially harmful effects in the lung, the BMBF project “Carbon Fibre Cycle – CFC” has the aim to identify respirable particles, fibres and fibre fragments after mechanical processing or thermal treatment of CF/CFRP, to analyse them and to assess pulmonary toxicity.
Based on a material flow analysis identifying relevant release scenarios of respirable dusts, investigations of CF/ CFRP materials under thermal and mechanical stress are carried out. Inhalable aerosols are provided and characterized, which are brought to the air-liquid interface of human lung cells (ALI) in an exposure system, where toxicological investigations are carried out. Lung epithelial, macrophage and fibroblast cell cultures are used for toxicological evaluation and investigation of respirable CF.