Originally published November 16 2015
The pollution of SCIENCE: Carbon nanotubes now being found in childrens' lungs
by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
(NaturalNews) Tiny structures called carbon nanotubes are showing up in children's lungs, calling into question their safety in modern technical applications. Many researchers point out that carbon nanotubes look a lot like asbestos fibers under the microscope. Researchers have also shown that carbon nanotubes cause a deadly, inflammatory response in immune cell that is similar to that of asbestos fibers. In the 20th century, asbestos was ultimately exposed for causing widespread lung disease and cancers such as mesothelioma. Are carbon nanotubes to blame for causing respiratory problems in the 21st century?
The particles, functioning as both conductors and semiconductors, are strong for their size, and they are increasingly being utilized in modern scientific applications. However, the more they are used, the more the particles break free into the environment, polluting the air.
Persistent nanotubes beckon and destroy macrophages, paving the way for lesions to form. It has been shown that these fibers, at 20 micrometers long and greater, can persist in the body, causing immune system reactions. Ken Donaldson at the University of Edinburgh in the UK confirms that the tubes can persist in the abdominal cavities of mice and cause an immune system reaction within seven days. The macrophages that responded to the invasion were unable to eliminate the nanotubes. When they tried to swallow fibers longer than 20 micrometers, the macrophages ruptured and died off. The tubes remained and caused the formation of granulomas or lesions in the abdominal organs.
Now that the tubes are being used in computing, clothing, and medical technology, they are more persistent than ever before. How might these modern scientific wonders be inhaled, where they begin to initiate the formation of tumors in unsuspecting people?
Asthmatic children plagued by nanotubes lodged in their lungsTo understand how this can negatively affect humans, studies would have to measure the ways in which the tubes enter the body. Fathi Moussa and a team of researchers at the University of Paris-Saclay are now finding that the tubes can enter people's bodies via inhalation. The tubes were discovered in fluid taken from the lungs of children. Some researchers might find this hard to believe because the tubes often stick together due to their high charge and don't persist in the air for very long. Nevertheless, the tubes are appearing in the lungs of children who have asthma. In fact, the 64 children they studied all had asthma and all had carbon nanotubes in their lungs. Five other children even had the tubes in their macrophages taken from lung fluid samples. This shows that carbon nanotubes are putting children's immune systems under duress as macrophages rupture and die after attacking the tubes.
Nanotubes bind and carry other pollutants into the lungs, penetrating cell membranesThe researchers believe that that the nanotubes could be coming from vehicle exhaust. The nanotube samples taken from the children's lungs are similar in structure to particles taken from vehicle exhaust samples. Nevertheless, James Bonner at North Carolina State University in Raleigh thinks that people shouldn't overreact. "In my opinion, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to what these structures really are, especially the material in the lung cells from patients," he says.
While nanotubes aren't directly toxic, they might be sticking to more pervasive and dangerous molecules in the air. The tubes could be acting as a vector or carrier, allowing more dangerous pollutants to be inhaled as they are embedded into the lungs while dangerously penetrating cell membranes.
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