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Carbon Nanotubes May Pose Cancer Risk

Posted May 23, 2008 2:00 AM by Sharkles

Last Tuesday, international researchers reported that certain types of long, thin carbon nanotubes may, if inhaled, pose a cancer risk similar to that of asbestos. Long, thin carbon nanotubes pose the greatest danger during the manufacturing process, when dust-like particles in the air could be inhaled by workers. This exposure could lead to lung cancer later in life, claims Andrew Maynard of the Woodrow Wilson International Center Scholars in Washington, D.C.. Once finished, carbon nanotubes pose less of a health risk because they are embedded in other materials.


What are Carbon Nanotubes?

Carbon nanotubes are molecular-scale structures made from carbon graphite,an incredibly strong and lightweight material. They are used for electronics, drug development, lightweight building materials, aerospace applications, structural engineering projects, and many other purposes. Since their discovery in the early 1990s, scientists have been concerned that carbon nanotubes (like asbestos) would adhere to the outer lining of the lung – the mesothelium.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a disease which causes cells of the mesothelium to become abnormal and divide, thus damaging tissues and organs. Today, more than 90% of mesothelioma cases are linked to asbestos exposure. Widespread asbestos exposure is considered to be the worst occupational hazard in the history of the United States. Asbestos, and potentially carbon nanotubes, are harmful because their fibers can penetrate deep into the lungs.


Why Shorter Carbon Nanotubes are Safer
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh took three groups of mice and injected them with carbon nanotubes at least 20 microns long and several atoms thick, shorter nanotubes, or asbestos fibers. After 24 hours, the mice that received the asbestos fibers and longer nanotubes showed inflammation – the first step in the cancer process. A week later, mice from the afflicted groups showed scar-like tissue buildup. This buildup is known as granuloma, another step in the process. Mice who received the shorter, thinner nanotubes were unaffected. Researchers believe that the fibers in the shorter tubes were small enough to be ingested and ejected by immune cells.


The NanoBusiness Aliance Responds
Sean Murdock, head of the NanoBusiness Alliance says that precautions have already been implemented in many factories. "The good news is that we're understanding the potential hazards before we have large-scale use of these products (now) and not four decades later", he said.

Resources:
http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-sci-nano21-2008may21,0,4559970.story

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2004428074_nano21.html?syndication=rss

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2008/05/21/90207.htm

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/HealthSci/Carbon_nanotubes_bad_as_asbestos/articleshow/3060202.cms

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesothelium

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Anonymous Poster
#1

Re: Carbon Nanotubes May Pose Cancer Risk

05/30/2008 8:14 AM

yes...i have also got through it....actually this is a latest news....two months later i have done a paper on the carbon nanotubes....but that time i didnot got through it....thank u for awaring all...good job expert...this is sakthi,an indian...

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