Navigation Links
Carbon Nanotubes That Look Like Asbestos, Behave Like Asbestos
Date:5/20/2008

New study shows inhaling long, thin carbon nanotubes may result in asbestos-related disease

WASHINGTON, May 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A major study published today in Nature Nanotechnology suggests some forms of carbon nanotubes -- a poster child for the "nanotechnology revolution" -- could be as harmful as asbestos if inhaled in sufficient quantities.

The study used established methods to see if specific types of nanotubes have the potential to cause mesothelioma -- a cancer of the lung lining that can take 30-40 years to appear following exposure. The results show that long, thin multi-walled carbon nanotubes that look like asbestos fibers, behave like asbestos fibers.

Discovered nearly 20 years ago, carbon nanotubes have been described as the wonder material of the 21st Century. Light as plastic and stronger that steel, they are being developed for use in new drugs, energy-efficient batteries and futuristic electronics. But since their discovery, questions have been raised about whether some of these nanoscale materials may cause harm and undermine a nascent market for all types of carbon nanotubes, including multi- and single-walled carbon nanotubes. Leading forecasting firms say sales of all nanotubes could reach $2 billion annually within the next four to seven years, according to an article in the U.S. publication Chemical & Engineering News.

"This study is exactly the kind of strategic, highly focused research needed to ensure the safe and responsible development of nanotechnology," says Andrew Maynard, Chief Science Advisor to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and a co-author on the paper. "It looks at a specific nanoscale material expected to have widespread commercial applications and asks specific questions about a specific health hazard. Even though scientists have been raising concerns about the safety of long, thin carbon nanotubes for over a decade, none of the research needs in the current U.S. federal nanotechnology environment, health and safety risk research strategy address this question."

Widespread exposure to asbestos has been described as the worst occupational health disaster in U.S. history and the cost of asbestos-related disease is expected to exceed $200 billion, according to major U.S. think tank RAND Corporation.

Anthony Seaton, MD, a co-author on the paper and a professor emeritus at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, says, "The toll of asbestos-related cancer, first noticed in the 1950s and 1960s, is likely to continue for several more decades even though usage reduced rapidly some 25 years ago. While there are reasons to suppose that nanotubes can be used safely, this will depend on appropriate steps being taken to prevent them from being inhaled in the places they are manufactured, used and ultimately disposed of. Such steps should be based on research into exposure and risk prevention, leading to regulation of their use. Following this study, the results of which were foreseen by the Royal Society in the U.K. in 2004, we can no longer delay investing in such research."

Researchers, led by Professor Kenneth Donaldson at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, examined the potential for long and short carbon nanotubes, long and short asbestos fibers, and carbon black to cause pathological responses known to be precursors of mesothelioma. Material was injected into the abdominal cavity of mice -- a sensitive predictor of long fiber response in the lung lining.

"The results were clear," says Donaldson. "Long, thin carbon nanotubes showed the same effects as long, thin asbestos fibers."

Asbestos fibers are harmful because they are thin enough to penetrate deep into the lungs, but sufficiently long to confound the lungs' built-in clearance mechanisms for getting rid of particles.

Donaldson stresses there are still pieces of the puzzle to fill in. "We still don't know whether carbon nanotubes will become airborne and be inhaled, or whether, if they do reach the lungs, they can work their way to the sensitive outer lining. But if they do get there in sufficient quantity, there is a chance that some people will develop cancer -- perhaps decades after breathing the stuff," states Donaldson.

There is a silver lining to this research. According to Donaldson, "Short or curly carbon nanotubes did not behave like asbestos, and by knowing the possible dangers of long, thin carbon nanotubes, we can work to control them. It's a good news story, not a bad one. It shows that carbon nanotubes and their products could be made to be safe."

But Donaldson added that the present study only tested for fiber-like behavior and did not exonerate carbon nanotubes from damaging the lungs in other ways. "More research is still needed if we are to understand how to use these materials as safely as possible," he notes.

Carbon nanotubes are atom-thick sheets of graphite formed into cylinders. They may be formed from a single layer of graphite or they may consist of multiple concentric layers of graphite, resulting in multi-walled carbon nanotubes. While the diameter of a nanotube can vary from a few nanometers up to tens of nanometers, they can be hundreds or even thousands of nanometers long. Carbon nanotubes come in many forms, with different shapes, different atomic arrangements, and varying amounts and types of added chemicals -- all of which affect their properties and might influence their impact on human health and the environment.

"This is a wakeup call for nanotechnology in general and carbon nanotubes in particular," says Maynard. "As a society, we cannot afford not to exploit this incredible material, but neither can we afford to get it wrong -- as we did with asbestos."

The paper can be found on the journal's website: http://www.nature.com/nnano

About Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter; a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers wide. In 2007, nanotechnology was incorporated into more than $88 billion in manufactured goods. Lux Research projects that figure will grow to $2.6 trillion by 2014, or about 15% of total global output.

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (http://www.nanotechproject.org) is an initiative launched by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2005. It is dedicated to helping business, government and the public anticipate and manage possible health and environmental implications of nanotechnology.


'/>"/>
SOURCE The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. National Association of EMS Educators (NAEMSE) Recommends Screening for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
2. Carbon monoxide counteracts one side-effect of an anti-cancer drug
3. Radon Gas More Deadly Than Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
4. Activists Raise Alarm for Seniors, Deliver Carbon Monoxide Detectors to Atria Marland Place
5. Hot liquids release potentially harmful chemicals in polycarbonate plastic bottles
6. UT Southwestern plastic surgeons deploy new carbon dioxide-based fractional laser
7. Routine screenings uncover hidden carbon monoxide poisoning
8. Wiley-Blackwell renews carbon neutral commitment
9. Tracking your carbon footprint
10. Reducing carbon emissions could help -- not harm -- US economy
11. MarketResearch.com Announces Distribution of CarbonFree Research
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/8/2016)... Somerset, N.J. (PRWEB) , ... December 08, 2016 ... ... advanced delivery technologies and development solutions for drugs, biologics and consumer health products, ... The PSCI was set up in 2006 as a non-profit organization to unite ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... Today’s patients are ... this in mind, SIGVARIS has created a new line of anti-embolism stockings to ... and provide the benefits of graduated compression when transitioning from recovery to early ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... ... services from offices headquartered in Hamilton County, is embarking on a charity drive ... specializes in finding new homes for orphaned or neglected senior dogs in the ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... The Compretta Insurance Agency, a family owned ... and around the Hancock County area, is announcing the launch of a charity effort ... The Hancock County Food Pantry has worked for more than 30 years to meet ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... , ... Students attending Envision’s summer 2017 National Youth ... experience in an emergency medical simulation, When Care is Hours Away. This dynamic ... skills that are critical success in a future career and beyond. , The ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... DUBLIN , Dec 8, 2016 Research ... Electrodes Market Analysis and Trends - Adhesion Type, Application, Usability - ... ... The Global Cardiology Electrodes Market is poised to grow at a ... prominent trends that the market is witnessing include advancements in extracellular ...
(Date:12/8/2016)...  Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine ... Gary Tennis released safe prescribing guidelines ... developed with the help of a task force. ... frequently prescribed for anxiety or insomnia," said Dr. ... pain medications, benzodiazepines pose a significant risk for ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016  EIP Pharma, LLC ... obtained proof-of-mechanism for neflamapimod (previously code named VX-745), ... 2a clinical trials that demonstrated significant Alzheimer,s disease ... (12-week treatment) and Study 303 (6-week treatment) are ... in Alzheimer,s Disease (CTAD) scientific conference in ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: