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'Asbestos Warning' on Nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes cancer risk similar to asbestos


Scientists have warned that carbon nanotubes could pose a cancer risk similar to that of asbestos advising its use should be restricted to protect human health. Carbon nanotubes were developed in 1991 and have proved extremely useful, conferring great strength while being very light. Products containing nanotubes include car body panels, tennis rackets, yacht masts and bike frames.

Specific lengths of the tiny fibres were found to cause "asbestos-like" inflammation and lesions in mice. There have been several studies but to date no two studies have showed the same result, although the latest study suggests there could be a reason for concern, it needs to be validated.

The researchers looked in particular at a membrane that forms the lining of body cavities, such as the chest and the abdomen, called the mesothelium. What was found is that the long nanotubes were pathogenic which can cause inflammation and scar formation. The short nanotubes were not.  There are still however many questions to answer, including whether the long nanotubes would even reach the chest cavity lining if they were inhaled.

Another recent study showed that when mice inhaled nanotubes they developed inflammation that peaked within seven days of exposure, and returned to normal within one or two months. Whether the material is asbestos-like is still a question to be debated. People involved in the manufacturing process, whether in industrial plants or academic labs, and when products were disposed of need to be monitored.

Irwin Mitchell is a nationally recognised force in the field of asbestos related diseases and successfully pursed asbestos compensation claims. Although the recent evidence remains inconclusive Irwin Mitchell intend to closely monitor future research.

If you or a loved one has been affected by an asbestos related illness, our solicitors can help you to claim compensation. See our Asbestos Claims page for more information.