Are Nanotubes the New Asbestos?

Illustration for article titled Are Nanotubes the New Asbestos?

A new study has found that carbon nanotubes—if inhaled—could be as dangerous as asbestos. This is not only problematic for a future of semiconductors that would like to exploit the technology, but the goods already on the market now that use nanotubes in composite mixtures, like baseball bats and tennis rackets.

To test the nanotubes, one lab injected the material into human-lung-like rat stomach lining and found the area inflamed after a week. So at this point we're fairly certain that inhaling nanotubes would be bad news. What we aren't certain about is whether or not nanotubes in their commercial form (like baseball bats) could ever become breathable, or even airborne in the first place.

Further study is needed, but this isn't the sort of news we wanted to hear about a very promising facet of nanotechnology. [Project On Emerging Nanotechnologies and SFGate]

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DISCUSSION

Didn't they find that asbestos was especially dangerous when you had asbestos installers that were smoking? So, this is particularly bad news for all of the chain-smoking baseball players out there.

As someone who works in the insurance industry, this really is not a joking matter. I can only imagine the claims that are heading our way in future years. A good example of my favorite saying from Beavis and Butthead:

"You gotta have stuff that sucks to have stuff that's cool." Clearly, this sucks.