SocraticGadfly: Nanotech like asbestos?

May 21, 2008

Nanotech like asbestos?

For years, many environmentalists and others have been warning we don’t know enough about nanotech to believe all the hype about it some people have been throwing against the wall. Well, now we know more, and it doesn’t sound pretty Nanotubes may cause lesions similar to those that asbestos causes. With asbestos, those lesions eventually turn into mesothelioma.

It is true that the news is good here, insomuch as the potential danger was discovered well in advance.

Vicki Colvin, a professor of chemistry at Rice University in Houston, who was not involved with the research, said she wasn’t worried, but that the use of nanotubes should be better labeled.

But another researcher wants to proceed from stricter presuppositions:
“I think there is clear evidence for caution in how they are used and handled,” said Andrew D. Maynard, chief science adviser to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington and (one of the authors) of the Nature Nanotechnology paper.

Maynard said nanotubes should be subject to the same rules and regulations as asbestos.

“That gives you a good baseline starting point,” Dr. Maynard said. The rules could be relaxed if nanotubes turned out to be less toxic, he said.

Sounds reasonable to me.

But, expect the lobbying effort against such sensibility to start gearing up … about now.

No comments: