Can Carbon Nanotubes Cause or Treat Cancer? Safety Tips

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    Cancer
In summary, Nanotubes can cause cancer, but if you are cautious and use proper safety precautions, you should be fine.
  • #1
CCatalyst
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TL;DR Summary
How do I prevent cancer when handling carbon nanotubes?
I did a quick google search and there some places that say carbon nanotubes can CAUSE cancer, and other places say that doctors use it to TREAT cancer.
Nanotubes cause cancer.
Nanotubes can treat cancer.
So what do I do? If I were to handle them or make them myself, what do I need to do to prevent myself from getting cancer from this?

I get the feeling that this is just like radiation therapy, where if you keep the dosage low and focused it can treat cancer, but being too large and unfocused can cause it. So what do I do? Do I just avoid ingesting it? Or do I need to have a breath mask?
 
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  • #2
No idea if they are or are not dangerous, but if you want to be super safe some kind of a dust mask won't hurt.

My gut feeling is that the idea that they could trigger similar mechanisms as asbestos doesn't sound completely off. I can be completely wrong though.
 
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  • #3
Borek said:
My gut feeling is that the idea that they could trigger similar mechanisms as asbestos doesn't sound completely off. I can be completely wrong though.

Evidence says your gut might just be right.

BoB
 
  • #4
Standard PPE should be adequate.

Edit: PPE = personal protective equipment. In a chemistry lab, this is latex or nitrile gloves, safety glasses, and a lab coat. If you’re generating large amounts of CNT dust, that’s another story, and you might consider an N95 mask.
 
  • #5
rbelli1 said:
Evidence says your gut might just be right.

Well, that's a link that OP posted and I read it before answering :) This is still one result, so I remain cautious.
 
  • #6
Borek said:
Well, that's a link that OP posted and I read it before answering :)

Sorry. I just started Googling before reading the OP's links.

BoB
 
  • #7
Speculating...

1. Asbestos generates cancer through the inflammation pathway (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2936775/ )
Note that the inflammation pathway leads to cancer when the source of inflammation cannot be removed by the immune system. This process generally takes decades to produce a clinical tumor.

2. The reason for asbestos to last this long is its inertness (probably correlated to its being more or less inert in a fire). That is, asbestos cannot be digested by white blood cells. (As far as I know, asbestos does not intercalate into DNA and produce transcription errors, and it also does not generate free radicals, again both of which are the result of its inertness.) Inertness does not mean that it does not interact with antibodies and other cellular sensors, most of which operate through van der Waal's forces.

3. The friable nature of asbestos permits it to achieve particle sizes smaller than ##2\mu \textrm{m}##, and the particles having such dimension can be delivered into the alveoli where there are no cilia to sweep the material out of the lung. (Asbestos that only makes it into the bronchi should be swept out with fluid, swallowed and then mostly excreted.)

4. Carbon nanofibres, if all dimensions are less than ##2\mu\textrm{m}##, share the above characteristics and would be expected to generate the same response.

5. An N95 mask would be useless if the above is true, because it is not designed to capture particles of such small size.

But at this point, all of the above is speculation. The following questions require research:

1. Do carbon nanoparticles generate decade-long inflammation?
2. Are there other confounding effects?
(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882688/)

One more interesting paper, which suggests that it's not the fact that it's a nanoparticle, but the fact that it's inflammatory.
(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2639757/)

So act wisely and wish you success.
 
  • #8
QUOTE="robot6, post: 6253762, member: 669184"]
An N95 mask would be useless if the above is true, because it is not designed to capture particles of such small size.
[/QUOTE]
N95 blocks 95% of particles down to 100nm. If you can figure out how to make an aerosol of sub-100nm CNT crystals, you should publish the method.

Maybe I should be clearer. I’ve worked professionally with CNT’s and other nanocarbons for 15 years. You’ll be fine if you take my recommendations. Based on your other posts in the DIY forum, CNTs are the least of your safety concerns.
 
  • #10
“N95 respirators made by different companies were found to have different filtration efficiencies for the most penetrating particle size (0.1 to 0.3 micron), but all were at least 95% efficient at that size for NaCl particles.”
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/9487666/
My source is the American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal. Yours is the Washington Post. I’ll trust mine.
robot6 said:
Also, 15 years is not enough to develop cancer from asbestos (at least clinical signs of it).
A million years is not enough if it never gets in your system. That’s my point. Unless you’re generating large amounts of CNT dust (in which case, your lab is very well-funded at least, given their price), you are in more danger sitting next to a campfire and inhaling the smoke than you are working with CNTs.
 
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Related to Can Carbon Nanotubes Cause or Treat Cancer? Safety Tips

1. Can carbon nanotubes cause cancer?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that carbon nanotubes can directly cause cancer. However, some studies have shown that certain types of carbon nanotubes can have negative effects on the lungs if inhaled in large quantities. More research is needed to fully understand the potential risks of carbon nanotubes.

2. Can carbon nanotubes be used to treat cancer?

There is ongoing research on the potential use of carbon nanotubes in cancer treatment. Some studies have shown promising results in using carbon nanotubes to deliver cancer-fighting drugs directly to tumors. However, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness and safety of this approach.

3. Are there any safety tips for handling carbon nanotubes?

It is important to follow proper safety protocols when handling carbon nanotubes, as they can be harmful if inhaled or ingested. This includes wearing protective gear, such as gloves and a mask, and working in a well-ventilated area. It is also important to properly dispose of any waste materials containing carbon nanotubes.

4. How are carbon nanotubes different from other nanoparticles?

Carbon nanotubes are unique in their structure and properties, which make them different from other nanoparticles. They are long, thin tubes made of carbon atoms, and have a high aspect ratio and high surface area. This allows them to have a wide range of potential applications, but also raises concerns about their potential health and environmental impacts.

5. Are there any regulations in place for the use of carbon nanotubes?

Currently, there are no specific regulations for the use of carbon nanotubes. However, they may fall under existing regulations for nanoparticles or other hazardous materials. As more research is conducted on the safety and potential risks of carbon nanotubes, regulations may be implemented to ensure their safe use and handling.

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