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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

IARC to evaluate carbon nanotubes

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The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has announced that the 111th Monograph meeting  (30 September - 7 October 2014) will evaluate some nanomaterials and fibres. The agents  for review are carbon nanotubes (CNT), fluoro-edenite and silicon carbide.

The major concern with CNT is their elongated shape and the possibility that they may have similar toxicological properties to asbestos, but the scientific issues surrounding nanotubes are complex. Searching the recently published literature shows that there are almost ten times the number of papers investigating the use of carbon nanotubes as a way of delivering therapeutic cancer drugs as are concerned with the cancer hazards or risks of the same materials.

Ken Donaldson and colleagues [1] discussed the hazard of CNT in a recent paper. They noted that when inhaled, asbestos can cause asbestosis, bronchogenic carcinoma, mesothelioma, pleural fibrosis and pleural plaques. The pathogenicity of fibres in the lung depends on their length, diameter and biopersistence. Long and biopersistent fibres can cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the lung and pleura and these processes culminate in pathologic changes. Current research suggests that fibrous CNT can elicit inflamatory effects similar to asbestos but more research is needed to determine whether they can cause fibrosis and cancer in the lung. However, given the main potential use of these materials it is perhaps more important to determine whether...
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