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Nanotechnology has been an issue of interest to Congress for a number of years,
coming into focus in 2000 with the launch of the U.S. National Nanotechnology
Initiative (NNI) by President Clinton in his FY2001 budget request to Congress.
Since then, Congress has appropriated more than $8 billion for nanotechnology
research and development (R&D).
According to researchers based out of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars in Washington D.C., the early 90’s development of carbon nanotubes has been an amazing feat for technological applications, however, it has not gone without its price. Specifically, carbon nanotubes may be causing harm to the human body in the form of mesothelioma cancer.
If the carbon nanotubes are introduced into the wrong environment, the development of lesions and inflammation of the lungs occurs - symptoms similar to that of mesothelioma cancer and asbestos exposure. Researchers uncovered the finding through exposure of carbon nanotubes to animals.
Study Uncovers Mesothelioma Link to Nanotechnology
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is almost always caused by previous exposure to asbestos. In this disease, malignant cells develop in the mesothelium, a protective lining that covers most of the body's internal organs. Its most common site is the pleura (outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall), but it may also occur in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), the heart, the pericardium (a sac that surrounds the heart) or tunica vaginalis.
Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles, or they have been exposed to asbestos dust and fiber in other ways. Washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos can also put a person at risk for developing mesothelioma. Unlike lung cancer, there is no association between mesothelioma and smoking. Compensation via asbestos funds or lawsuits is an important issue in mesothelioma (see asbestos and the law).
The symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath due to pleural effusion (fluid between the lung and the chest wall) or chest wall pain, and general symptoms such as weight loss. The diagnosis may be suspected with chest X-ray and CT scan, and is confirmed with a biopsy (tissue sample) and microscopic examination. A thoracoscopy (inserting a tube with a camera into the chest) can be used to take biopsies. It allows the introduction of substances such as talc to obliterate the pleural space (called pleurodesis), which prevents more fluid from accumulating and pressing on the lung. Despite treatment with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or sometimes surgery, the disease carries a poor prognosis. Research about screening tests for the early detection of mesothelioma is ongoing.
Asbestos litigation is the longest, most expensive mass tort in U.S. history, involving more than 8,400 defendants and 730,000 claimants as of 2002 according to the RAND Corporation, and at least one defendant reported claim counts in excess of 800,000 in 2006.
Current trends indicate that the worldwide rate at which people are diagnosed with the disease will likely increase through the next decade. Analysts have estimated that the total costs of asbestos litigation in the USA alone is over $250 billion.
The Federal legal system in the United States has been faced with numerous counts of asbestos related suits, which often included multiple plaintiffs with similar symptoms. The concern with these court cases are the staggering numbers, which in 1999 recorded 200,000 cases pending in the Federal court system of the United States . Further, it is estimated that within the next 40 years, cases may balloon to seven hundred thousand cases. These numbers help explain how there are thousands of current pending cases.
Experts have warned Ottawa to regulate nanotechnology, Ottawa has yet to respond
The breakneck pace at which products with altered molecules are making their way to store shelves has scientists worried that governments around the world aren't doing enough to ensure that the new technology is safe for people and the environment.
In Canada, a blue-ribbon panel of 15 nanotechnology experts warned the federal government last summer that action is "urgently" needed to assess the potential risks of these tiny particles, but Health Canada has yet to respond to their report.
There are no nanomaterial-specific regulations in effect in Canada. As it stands, Ottawa doesn't even have a list of nanomaterials that have been developed or are contained in more than 800 products already being hawked to consumers.
Insurers scrutinize nanotechnology
On September 24, 2008, the U.S. insurance company Continental Western Group (CWG) issued a statement noting that it would exclude nanotubes and nanotechnology from its coverage. The statement has since disappeared from the CWG website, and fears of similar decisions by other insurance companies are as yet unrealized. But although CWG’s decision to exclude nanotechnology was criticized by many as hasty and ill-informed, experts note that it represents the increasing concern among insurers about the emerging risks of nanotechnology.
“Nanotechnology is a big problem because the technology is moving much faster, as we all know, than information on health and environmental safety,” says Robert Blaunstein of Nanotechnology Risk Management, a firm that advises industries, insurers, and investors on how to best manage the risks of nanotechnology.
And insurance companies agree. Lloyd’s (U.K.), the oldest and one of the largest insurance firms in the world, along with other influential insurance companies, has listed nanotechnology at the top of its “emerging risks” list. “The biggest challenge facing insurers may be the diverse nature of nanotechnology and the lack of information regarding its impact to health and the environment,” wrote David Baxter, in an article in the February 2008 newsletter of SafeNano Initiative, an undertaking by the U.K.’s Institute of Occupational Medicine, which helps researchers and industries quantify and control the risks of the technology. Baxter is the lead researcher on the Exposure Management Team of Lloyd’s.
Originally posted by loam
reply to post by soficrow
I have not read "Prey". I'll have to look that one up.
Did you look through the list of consumer products containing these carbon nanotubes?
Good god! People are slathering this stuff on their bodies!!!
That's just plain frightening.
Originally posted by loam
Speaking of food, this article was published just the other day:
"Nanofoods" Offer Big Flavor, Low Fat, Stealth Vitamins
Look how quickly they are moving forward with the application of this science.