Nanotechnology is the emerging scientific study related to the use of small, thin, carbon-based materials known as nanotubes (also called CNTs), which are becoming widely used in a plethora of products ranging from technologically advanced items utilized by NASA to everyday items used in the home. These nanotubes are increasingly popular due to their light weight and supreme strength, which is said to be stronger than steel.
As the variety of uses for nanotubes increases, researchers continue to do studies and tests related to the consequences of nanotube use. Current research suggests that exposure to carbon-based nanotubes may lead to the development of mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and has no known cure. Scientists claim that there is no cause for immediate concern, but that further testing related to nanotube exposure and the onset of mesothelioma is crucial.
As with exposure to asbestos, nanotubes are only potentially dangerous if the tiny fibers are inhaled, putting manufacturers, lab researchers, suppliers, and other professionals who may handle nanotubes at the most risk. The average individual is not at serious risk, as the CNTs are encased and the risk of the CNT fibers being released is extremely low.
Carbon nanotubes continue to emerge as a new technology. In the medical field, CNTs are being tested as a highly effective method of gene and drug delivery within the human body. CNTs are also being implemented in advanced cancer treatments. In addition, CNTs can be found in touch screen displays, computers, cellular telephones, PDAs and even ATMs. You can also find CNTs in common items, such as bicycle handlebars, automobile parts, solar panels, and MP3 players.
The nexus between carbon nanotubes and the onset of mesothelioma is still being carefully researched. However, it is imperative that ample funding is made available to researchers so that this important research can continue. As the uses for CNTs increase, proper safety precautions during manufacturing must also be put into place and enforced to ensure that this incredible technology may continue to develop.
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