Carbon Nanotubes Found in Human Lungs For the First Time

By Jamie Condliffe on at

What’s that up your nose? Researchers have found carbon nanotubes lurking in the lungs of children in Paris, marking the first time the tiny tubes have been observed in humans.

During a study of the fluid found in the airways of 64 astmathic children, a team from the University of Paris-Saclay found carbon nanotubes in each and every sample. In five cases they also found the nanotubes within the immune cells of lungs, known as macrophages, that help clear unwanted particles from the airways. The results are published in EBioMedicine.

The total number of nanotubes and their source remain unclear, say the researchers, nor is there necessarily any link between their asthma and the presence of the carbon tubes. However, as New Scientist points out, mouse studies have shown that carbon nanotubes have been associated with immune reactions reminiscent of those brought about by asbestos.

It remains unclear what, if any, effects carbon nanotubes have in the respiratory tracts of humans. Likely time will tell.

[EBioMedicine via New Scientist]

Image by Sebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock