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.
|SOURCE The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies|
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