, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 775-786
Date: 25 Jan 2011

Health and environmental safety aspects of friction grinding and spray drying of microfibrillated cellulose

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Microfibrillated cellulose (MFC), also referred to as nanocellulose, is one of the most promising innovations for forest sector. MFC is produced by fibrillating the fibres under high compression and shear forces. In this study we evaluated the worker exposures to particles in air during grinding and spray drying of birch cellulose. Processing of MFC with either a friction grinder or a spray dryer did not cause significant exposure to particles during normal operation. Grinding generated small amount of particles, which were mostly removed by fume hood. Spray dryer leaked particles when duct valve was closed, but when correctly operated the exposure to particles was low or nonexistent. To assess the health effects of the produced MFC, mouse macrophages and human monocyte derived macrophages were exposed to MFC and the viability and cytokine profile of the cells were studied thereafter. No evidence of inflammatory effects or cytotoxicity on mouse and human macrophages was observed after 6 and 24 h exposure to the materials studied. The results of toxicity studies suggest that the friction ground MFC is not cytotoxic and does not cause any effects on inflammatory system in macrophages. In addition, environmental safety of MFC was studied with ecotoxicity test. Acute environmental toxicity assessed with kinetic luminescent bacteria test showed high NOEC values (>100 mg/l) for studied MFC. However, MFC disturbed Daphnia magna mobility mechanically when the test was performed according to the standard procedure.