Asbestos and Nanomaterials
A group of scientists in the United Kingdom have recently published a paper showing that high aspect ratio nanomaterials (HARN) may have toxicological/pathological effects on the human body similar to asbestos. The report looked at certain kinds of these materials, such as carbon nanotubes, that share similar physical characteristics as asbestos fibers and it concluded that they would likely trigger the same, or similar, physiological reactions that lead to diseases such as mesothelioma.
In making this analysis, the researchers conducted an extensive review of the available literature on asbestos and asbestos-related diseases, as well as prior studies of HARN and their possible health effects. The report makes a number of specific recommendations on the direction of future research into this question.
One of the difficulties associated with this kind of research is that asbestos-related diseases often take decades to develop, so the actual health effects of HARN exposure may not be seen for years to come. The report’s recommendations are directed at learning more about the pathological potential of these materials and, should this potential be confirmed, developing proper safety mechanisms to ensure the well-being of those who work with the materials.
Carbon nanotubes, and other such nanomaterials, are revolutionizing multiple industries and have the potential to remake many more, so identifying their potential health effects and developing safety precautions now will prevent problems in the future. To learn more about some of the medical research being conducted with carbon nanotubes, please read the following articles:
- ‘Smart bomb’ Nanoparticles Stop Cancer’s Spread
- Researchers Use Nanotech to Target Chemo Cancer Treatment