Recent laboratory studies have shown that lab mice which were injected with tiny carbon-based nanotubes demonstrated similar biological outcomes to mice that were injected with asbestos. Each set of lab mice displayed the same physical effects within 24 hours of injection, which included inflammation and lesions characteristic of the beginning stages of cancer. Lab mice that underwent more extensive testing also developed scar tissue known, another symptom that presents itself in the early stages of cancer.
These recent studies provide evidence of a connection between exposure to carbon nanotubes and the onset of mesothelioma. However, further testing will more adequately determine the risks associated with the use of carbon nanotubes. Scientists foresee the widespread use of carbon nanotubes within the medical field, specifically related to the development of highly advanced cancer treatments involving nanotubes that naturally emit powerful fluorescent light. Additionally, carbon nanotubes are being implemented as components in everyday items, such as automobiles, sports gear, and other reinforced plastic-based articles, such as spatulas or measuring spoons.
Scientists still have many unanswered questions regarding the nexus between nanotube exposure and the eventual development of mesothelioma. In a small percentage of lab mice tested, the cancer-like physical symptoms, including inflammation and onset of lesions, diminished within a period of two months. Researchers have yet to condemn the use of nanotubes due to the associated risks, but they do issue a warning to professionals who manufacture and handle carbon-based nanotubes and stress the importance of using certified equipment and approved breathing apparatuses when handling such materials.Sources
PMID: 14668113 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]