Carbon nanotubes may house Asbestos-like risks

A new study highlights the potential dangers of this nanotechnology

Research led by Professor Kenneth Donaldson at the University of Edinburgh has found that there’s a possible health risk with carbon nanotubes, the nanotechnology that has been embraced by sports equipment manufacturers.

Speaking to, Dr Andrew Maynard, who helped with the study, outlined possible problems with the technology, explaining that: “What we know is that some forms of nanotubes, particularly long, thin carbon nanotubes have the potential to cause mesothelomia [a form of lung cancer].”

The study found that mice injected with longer nanotubes developed lung problem similar to those caused by Asbestos inhalation.

Nano, nano

Although carbon nanotubes are relatively new, the 20-year-old technology is already being heralded as the wonder material of the 21st Century. This is due to the nanotubes’ ability to strengthen any material it is incorporated into, while being incredibly light weight. Because of this, bicycle manufacturers like BMC have been implementing CNT (carbon nanotube technology) to lighten and strengthen bike frames.

Dr Maynard, however, did stress that there’s no evidence suggesting that people could be exposed to the nanotubes in this harmful way, but did explain that: “The onus is now on proving these particular materials are safe, rather than proving that they are hazardous.”


Content Team Lead

Marc (Twitter, Google+) is the content team lead for Future Technology, where he is in charge of a 14-strong team of journalists who write many of the wonderful stories that end up on TechRadar, and T3 magazine. Prior to this he was deputy editor of TechRadar, had a 10-month stint editing a weekly iPad magazine, written film reviews for a whole host of publications and has been an integral part of many magazines that are no longer with us.