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Graphene oxide causes inflammation of the mucous membranes and as a consequence; loss of taste and partial or total loss of smell (2016 Study)

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Graphene is a laminar material that is made up of carbon atoms and is obtained from graphite. Among its characteristics, it is hard, flexible and a conductor of heat and electricity. Currently, it has many applications in the field of technology. 

Specifically, one millimeter of graphite contains three million layers of graphene , a material that only consists of a layer of carbon atoms and that is constituted in a structure similar to that of a honeycomb, that is, hexagonal, according to Graphenano , company specialized in nanotechnology.

What is graphene used for?

Its hardness characteristics mean that this material is used for multiple applications in the technological field, but also in others. In fact, it is the strongest material known in nature.

Graphene is marketed in sheets , which are used in fields such as electronics, computing or aeronautics, and also in powder form, which is used in areas where a high-quality material is not required.

In this way, this material could be found included in numerous devices that surround our day to day, such as computers, cars, mobile phones or stereos. It can also be used to make planes, space satellites or cars, as well as buildings, making all of them safer and more resistant constructions, according to the Graphenano document .

In electronics, it could be used to create batteries with a longer duration and shorter charging time, being able to replace other materials that are currently used and that are more polluting. In fact, graphene is capable of generating electricity through solar energy , so it could be a good option in the field of clean energy.

Bulletproof vests, resistant shoes, buildings, motorcycles, robotics, lasers, sensors , trains, hearing aids, prostheses, food containers and much more are some of the applications that this material could have. 

What are the dangers and what are the side effects of graphene?

According to studies carried out by researchers at Brown University and the University of California, one of the dangers of graphene is the oxide of this material , which forms when it is exposed to the open air and can move through water. , as collected in Computer Today .

Another negative effect is on the environment, since graphene oxide nanoparticles could move and be distributed in surface water such as lakes or rivers.

In addition, they examined the potential toxicity of graphene on human cells and found that the jagged edges of the material can easily pierce the cell membranes and skin of both humans and animals.

“These materials can be inhaled voluntarily or involuntarily,” says Robert Hurt, professor of engineering and one of the study’s authors. This issue is related to the withdrawal of the masks from the Basque Country and Castilla y León , some FFP2 masks that contain graphene and that will be evaluated for possible pulmonary risks.

Are graphene masks dangerous?

The danger of these masks, whose distribution has been paralyzed, could be that the manufacturers have not used “overlapping sheets”, but have used nanoparticles “that can potentially be inhaled” , explains Antonio Osuna, professor at the University of Granada and member of the Institute of biotechnology.

Although scientifically not much is yet known about the use of this material in masks, the nanoparticles inhaled by the users of the masks can cause inflammation in the mucous membranes, it would have to be shown that these nanoparticles pass through the filters of the mask.

However, the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) already requested last Thursday the voluntary cessation of the marketing of these surgical masks with graphene biomass , since the Canadian health authorities reported in a document on the possible risks due to the presence of graphene or graphene biomass in said masks.

Thus, the AEMPS is carrying out an investigation into the potential risk of inhaling graphene particles due to the use of these surgical masks and the risk this could entail

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