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Carbon nanotubes may bring health risk

Research led by the University of Edinburgh has found that carbon nanotubes may be as harmful as asbestos.


The researchers found that short carbon nanotube fibres appeared to be harmless. However, they also found the body was unable to deal with longer fibres, which provoked inflammation and disease. The reaction is similar to that produced by asbestos, where longer fibres can cause mesothelioma.
Professor Ken Donaldson, chair of respiratory toxicology, said: “While we have identified a potential hazard, more research is needed to show what, if any, the health risk is. There should be minimal risk in handling items made of carbon nanotubes because the fibres are so embedded. We are more concerned that there may be higher exposure of the workers involved in production of items containing nanotubes.”
Alongside the University of Edinburgh, research was carried out in collaboration with the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, the Institute of Occupational Medicine, Napier University and the University of Manchester.

Author
Graham Pitcher

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