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Study: Prolonged Exposure to Carbon Nanotubes

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http://www.efluxmedia.com/news_Prolonge ... 17852.html


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Prolonged Exposure To Carbon Nanotubes May Increase Cancer RiskCarbon nanotubes are as promising as they are dangerous, scientists warned, associating the effects they may have on human health with those of asbestos if inhaled. The study, published in Tuesday’s edition of the scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology, experimented with the effects of carbon nanotubes on mice, by injecting them into their abdomens. The consequences were as destructive for their lungs as the inhalation of asbestos.

Andrew Maynard, co-author of the study, warned that if the carbon nanotubes would somehow get released into the air, and consequently inhaled, they would have disastrous effects, just like asbestos. It is well known that the longer the exposure to asbestos, the greater the risk of disease is. Studies have shown that asbestos can be found both in the air and in the water, and that people exposed to it can develop mesothelioma (lung cancer which manifests through chest pain, weight loss, and can only be detected through X-ray) and even prostate cancer in men.

Carbon nanotubes have a lot of applications, and they are considered to be the material of the future, thanks to their extraordinary properties: they are strong, have electrical properties and work as thermal conductors. So far, multiple studies on the levels of toxicity carbon nanotubes can produce have been more than confusing. This time however, scientists warn that people who work with carbon nanotubes should be protected from the dangers of long exposure.

As they begin to be used in a variety of products, from clothes to tennis rackets and bicycle frames, it is not OK to let people think it is safe working with carbon nanotubes, Maynard said, while at the same time saying he didn’t expect a tennis racket for example to become dangerous any time soon. Further tests need to be conducted, but it is important to trigger alarm signals on the potential dangers, rather than wait for people to get ill.

The first to be exposed are of course the people who process carbon nanotubes, the study says, but scientists still want to investigate whether a broken or damaged product could trigger health problems. Previous tests on mice have shown that while carbon nanotubes have triggered the inflammation of the tissue when inhaled, the levels of toxicity in cells varied from high to no toxicity at all, which created a lot of confusion on whether this is indeed a toxic material.Carbon nanotubes manufacturers have already started taking precautionary measures, by using dust masks with respiratory filters for workers.

However, not all findings were negative. Scientists concluded that not all nanotubes are dangerous: the study revealed that the short carbon nanotubes might not be harmful, compared to long carbon nanotubes, but that’s not a reason to believe we are safe. Professor Kenneth Donaldson from the University of Edinburgh, U.K., pointed out that this might be actually a sign that carbon nanotubes, along with the resulted products, could be made to be safe. However, that is something we might obtain in the future. For now, it is better to prevent the potential harmful effects of carbon nanotubes rather than wake up in forty years and feel sorry for not taking precautionary measures at the right time.

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(eFlux Media, By Dee Chisamera, May 21, 2008)


The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind.

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