New developments in nanotechnology may present health hazards similar to those caused by exposure to asbestos such as the asbestos cancermesothelioma. Recent findings, as reported by Nature Nanotechnology, report on the risks of nanotechnology advancements that have resulted in the production and integration of carbon nanotubes as a wonder-fiber of the 21st century. These fibers are as light as plastic, but stronger than steel and have been developed for use in a variety of products, from energy-efficient batteries to other futuristic electronic devices, sports equipment and even drugs.
The study suggests that some of the carbon nanotubes have been structured to closely resemble asbestos fibers. Unfortunately, they not only resemble the fibrous material in structure; they also could “mimic” the destructive behavior of asbestos, potentially causing serious diseases of the lungs such as mesothelioma and other cancers. Despite the health risk, many products have already been made for carbon nanotubes, fueling concern that widespread use could result in occupational and environmental hazards similar to those experienced by workers exposed to asbestos. The latest data, as quoted in Chemical & Engineering News, a U.S. periodical publication, speculates that sales of all variety of nanotubes may reach $2 billion dollars annually in the next four to six years.
Although recent research suggests that there are possible health risks associated with the inhalation of carbon nanotube materials – risks that resemble the causation of asbestosis and mesothelioma – no further work has been completed to determine how or whether these high tech particles might become airborne, thereby affecting people who might inhale the materials.
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Vicki is interested in mesothelioma and keeps up to date on the latest developments by reading www.mesotheliomanews.com on a regular basis.