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Carbon nanotubes causing asbestos-like effects in lab mice

Nilay Patel
05.21.08
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The scientific and engineering possibilities of carbon nanotubes are hard to overestimate, but a study out of the UK might put a damper on the small-scale party for a while: mice injected with certain lengths of nanotubes developed lung problems similar to those caused by asbestos. Apparently the long, straight shape of the nanotubes causes problems for the lining of the lungs designed to deal with particulate matter, which can cause scarring, inflammation, and "probably cancer in the long term." That's a big "probably," however -- researchers say they're a long way from actually proving the link between long nanotubes and cancer, but no one's denying that it's troublesome, including the Nanotechnology Industries Association, which told the BBC that "there could be reason for concern... but it needs to be validated." It also seems like the focus is on handling the tech correctly, which is promising -- we'll keep an eye on how this plays out.

[Thanks, TC]

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