The nanotechnology industries remain assured by their occupational and product safety measures throughout the heated debate surrounding the publication of a toxicology study suggesting that multi-walled carbon nanotubes follow a ‘fibre paradigm’ observed - amongst in other fibres - in asbestos.
"The nanotechnology industry welcomed the findings but cautioned against drawing conclusions from a single study", Dr Steffi Friedrichs, Director of the Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA) told BBC News. "Until now we have not had two studies that showed the same result", she adds.
In an interview with Chemistry World Dr Friedrichs adds: "It is not surprising that long insoluble fibres of any material should behave in this way - glass wool has similar effects...but the study needs to be verified, and the researchers have noted important caveats - for example whether nanotubes can actually get to the place in the body that's going to cause damage".
The authors of the study support the industries’ safety claims: "Even if you took a mallet and hammered a tennis racket [containing carbon nanotubes], there's probably no danger because the nanotubes are held in a polymer matrix", says Professor Ken Donaldson.
Follow these links to download the full paper (abstract only; full paper available to subscribers only) and the NIA's coverage of it, and these to read coverage of the study published by BBC News and Chemistry World.
Registered NIA Members can download additional documents:
- Full Meeting Note of the Press Briefing, held at the Science Media Centre (20 May 2008, London)
- Interim Regulation passed by the UK Government (DEFRA, Environment Agency) on the 19 May 2008.