Home >Nanofibres may pose health risk
Nanofibres may pose health risk
23 January 2013
New research into the health risks posed by inhaling nanofibres â€“ used to strengthen objects from tennis rackets to aeroplane wings â€“ has shown that these fibres could be as harmful to the lungs as asbestos fibres, as they have a similar shape.
Researchers from Edinburgh tested varying lengths of nanofibres, to see the effects inhalation had on mice, and found that the longer fibres caused similar effects to asbestos fibres, which cause lung cancers such as mesothelioma. Those larger than five micrometres, or fivethousandths of a millimetre, tended to become lodged in the lungs and cause inflammation. The smaller ones were cleared from the lungs. The researchers hope the study will help to design safer nanofibres.
Ken Donaldson, professor of respiratory toxicology at the University of Edinburgh, said: â€œWe knew that long fibres, compared with shorter fibres, could cause tumours, but until now we did not know the cut-off length at which this happened.â€
Prof Stephen Spiro, from the British Lung Foundation, added: â€œIf confirmed by subsequent studies, this minimum fibre length can be cited in industry guidelines to help ensure people are not exposed to the sorts of fibres that may lead to such deadly diseases.â€