Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researcher warns of health risks with carbon nanotubes

January 19, 2011
Luleå University of Technology
Carbon nanotubes, which are extremely small fibers used in many new light and strong materials, may present health risks if inhaled, in the worst case leading to cancer, according to new research.

Carbon nanotubes are a modern and extremely light material that can add desirable properties to many industrial products, but they may be a health hazard. A new doctoral dissertation at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden shows that extremely small fibers such as carbon nanotubes can make their way far into the lungs, which in the worst case can present an increased risk of developing cancer.

"My research substantiates the concerns about health effects and is one reason we should be careful when handling with these materials," says Sofie Högberg, who now holds a PhD in engineering from the Division of Fluid Mechanics at Luleå University of Technology.

The result of her work indicates that the fibers that are most likely to make their way far into the lungs, perhaps all the way to the alveoli, are those with a diameter of c. 10-100 nanometers (1 nanometer = one billionth of a meter) and a length of 1-10 micrometers. This is a common size for carbon nanotubes.

In her research, she developed equations to describe the movements of a fiber. She then solved these equations numerically for a large number of fibers in a geometry and a flow field that represents the airways, in order to see what proportion of the inhaled fibers might be thought to fasten, depending on parameters like particle size and form.

The field of nanotechnology has been burgeoning in recent years, and today there are more than 1,000 nanoproducts on the market. The technology involves modifying material virtually at the level of the atom. Carbon nanotubes are a popular nanomaterial because of their combination of favorable properties that are desirable in many industrial products. By adding a small amount of carbon nanotubes it's possible to create materials that are strong yet still light in weight. However, with a diameter on the nanoscale and a highly elongated form, this extremely small particle can constitute a health risk.

"There are concerns, among others, that carbon nanotubes may lead to mesothelioma, a cancer form that previously has been associated only with asbestos," says Sofie Högberg.

Our knowledge of how spherical and fiber-shaped particles move can be used in other fields, such as production of composites and paper as well as medicines in aerosols. This means that Sofie Högberg's research has a wide spectrum of applications.

New doctoral dissertation by Sofie Högberg, LTU

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Luleå University of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

Luleå University of Technology. "Researcher warns of health risks with carbon nanotubes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110118092134.htm>.
Luleå University of Technology. (2011, January 19). Researcher warns of health risks with carbon nanotubes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110118092134.htm
Luleå University of Technology. "Researcher warns of health risks with carbon nanotubes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110118092134.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This

More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Japan Looks To Faster Future As Bullet Train Turns 50

Japan Looks To Faster Future As Bullet Train Turns 50

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Japan's bullet train turns 50 Wednesday. Here's a look at how it's changed over half a century — and the changes it's inspired globally. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US Police Put Body Cameras to the Test

US Police Put Body Cameras to the Test

AFP (Oct. 1, 2014) — Police body cameras are gradually being rolled out across the US, with interest surging after the fatal police shooting in August of an unarmed black teenager. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A ceremony marking 50 years since Japan launched its Shinkansen bullet train was held on Wednesday in Tokyo. The latest model can travel from Tokyo to Osaka, a distance of 319 miles, in two hours and 25 minutes. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robotic Hair Restoration

Robotic Hair Restoration

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — A new robotic procedure is changing the way we transplant hair. The ARTAS robot leaves no linear scarring and provides more natural results. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins