Carbon nanotubes and pleural damage: perspectives of nanosafety in the light of asbestos experience

Biointerphases. 2011 Jun;6(2):P1-17. doi: 10.1116/1.3582324.


Carbon nanotubes are molecular-scale one-dimensional manufactured materials which display several potential applications in engineering and materials science. Burgeoning evidence demonstrates that carbon nanotubes and asbestos share comparable physical properties. Therefore carbon nanotubes might display toxic effects and the extent of the toxicity is more specifically directed to lung and pleura. These effects are related to properties of carbon nanotubes, such as their structure, length, aspects ratio, surface area, degree of aggregation, extent of oxidation, bound functional group, method of manufacturing, concentration and dose. At the present there is no global agreement about the risk of carbon nanotubes on human health and in particular on their transformation capacity. Safety concerns regarding carbon nanotubes can be ameliorated. In this context, it is important to put the known hazards of carbon nanotubes into perspective. Here is presented an overview about toxicity issues in the application of carbon nanotubes to biological systems, taking into consideration the already known asbestos-induced mechanisms of biological damages.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asbestos / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Mesothelioma / chemically induced*
  • Mesothelioma / prevention & control
  • Models, Biological
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / toxicity*
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Pleura / drug effects*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / prevention & control


  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Asbestos