French scientist have recently discovered of new form of pollution. Traces of carbon nanotubes found in child’s lungs led the researchers to ascertain that this kind of nano material could be as poisonous and deadly as asbestos.
Basically carbon nanotubes are rolled-up tubes comprised of carbon atoms. Being the highlight of nanotechnology, carbon nanotubes are imbued with special properties. These tiny structures (a billionth part of a meter) are very light, stronger than any standard material and are able to conduct electricity much faster. Carbon nanotubes have diverse industrial applications. They are used to make electronic components, computers, clothing and they are very appreciated when it comes to manufacturing medical devices.
Although they seem to be quite inoffensive, studies have shown that small quantities of carbon nanotubes can attach themselves to the lung cell, forming black clumps in the lung cell vacuole. The carbon nanotubes found in child’s lung led the medical investigators to broaden their research of the phenomenon.
The team formed a study group comprising of 36 boys and 28 girls with ages between 2 months and 17 years old. All patients exhibited asthma symptoms. Results showed that in all 64 cases a large quantity of fluid was discovered inside the children’ lungs. In 5 cases, along with fluid, doctors have also discovered nanotubes lodged in the immune lung cell (macrophages).
It is very hard to ascertain the origin of the French boy’ nanotubes, because no one has come up with an efficient method of detecting carbon nanotube pollution. Lon Wilson, a chemist at Rice University stated that these particles are found in nature but they are also a byproduct of car engines. Researchers come to back up Wilson’ statement with results directly from the field. After collecting samples from tailpipes and building from all around Paris, the team discovers that all of them contain small traces of carbon nanotubes.
To point out the irony of the matter, Wilson declared that they often work with nanotubes in the laboratory and all of them have to wear masks in order to protect themselves from the effects of longtime exposure to carbon nanoparticles.
Another fact that arouses interest resides in the circumstances surrounding the discovery of nanotubes particles in the patient’s lungs. Apparently doctors first discovered this problem in patients who were already diagnosed with asthma and had to undergo a highly invasive bronchoscopy examinations using fiber-optic cameras.
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