Certain Kinds of Nanotubes May Cause Cancer

Certain kinds of carbon nanotubes triggered a cellular reaction in mice similar to that which leads to mesothelioma, a form of cancer, a study published in the online version of the journal Nature Nanotechnology reports. Nanotubes are used in a variety of consumer products, and some medical devices.

May 21, 2008

1 Min Read
Certain Kinds of Nanotubes May Cause Cancer

This means that these materials will need to be handled very carefully, reports the Washington Post.The findings do not apply to all nanotubes, nor do they necessarily predict effects on humans. And they are based on a small sample size. The effects were found only on the longest versions of nanotubes. And the mice were injected with the nanotubes, whereas humans would come into contact with them by inhaling them. The injections were made into the tissue around the lungs, and the longer nanotubes caused granulomas, which are cellular changes that can lead to cancer.The study will lead to more research, as U.S. regulators do not have much of a handle on how to regulate nanomaterials. It could also lead to follow-up tests and guidance for workers at factories which produce nanotubes, since they are at the highest risk. Labeling to guide consumers and those who handle recycling on proper disposal could be in the cards as well.FDA's task force on nanotechnology did not believe that nanotechnology should change the way medical devices are regulated -- and as alarming as the new study's findings may be, there's no reason to reassess that position. The reason is that medical device materials are already evaluated for toxicity. It is just a matter of taking the new information into account when doing those tests. Expect consumer groups, some of whom already wanted nanomaterials banned from the market until further research was done, to argue otherwise, however, and the mainstream media to print their arguments without questioning them much.

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