Researchers at the Toxicology Unit for the Medical Research Council in the UK induced the development of mesothelioma in mice by injecting them with carbon nanofibers. This led to several important discoveries that help our medical understanding of mesothelioma. These discoveries could also have implications for manufacturing, workplace safety, and even the asbestos industry.
One of the biggest outcomes of this study is the finding that carbon nanotubes are carcinogenic. In order to be harmful, the nanotubes must be either injected or inhaled. Most nanotubes used in production are part of a composite material that renders the nanotubes no longer carcinogenic.
The carbon nanotubes that the team found to cause mesothelioma in mice were long and slender, shaped like the hazardous asbestos fibers. Just as not all asbestos fibers are the cancer-causing kind, not all carbon nanotubes caused mesothelioma in the mice. Only the long, slender nanotubes.
This means that manufacturers using carbon nanotubes in production of products can choose a less harmful kind to use if there is any risk to employee or consumer safety. Rather than creating products that may harm others, manufacturers can choose safer alternatives.
The asbestos industry may also use these findings to create safer products. Asbestos is the leading cause of mesothelioma worldwide. France banned asbestos in 1997 and today most European nations have followed suit. The United States EPA banned asbestos in 1979 but a federal appeals court overturned the bureaucracy’s rules.
Since then, asbestos has declined in use, but it continues to appear in many applications which promise future harm. This research may lead to advances in the development of respirators and other workplace safety equipment.
Because this research shows that the shape of carbon nanotubes is important, medical research may be headed into a new direction.
If you or someone you love has been impacted by mesothelioma, contact a Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyer at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. To set up an initial consultation, complete our online form or call 215-569-4000 or 800-369-0899. For more than three decades we have served the people of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well as Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.