New findings indicate that children in Paris are probably inhaling carbon nanotubes from a common source: cars.
Researchers who have been studying the lungs of children who have Parisian asthma have made a disturbing discovery: they have found carbon nanotubes, a man-made substance that is an increasingly common air pollutant.
Carbon nanotubes are manufactured because they are useful in electronics and nanotechnology, but they are also created as a byproduct in automobile engines, according to a Discovery News report.
An international research team consisting of scientists in Paris and Rice University in Houston determined that nanotubes found in the lungs of asthma patients were similar to those taken from exhaust pipes of cars in Paris — and it may be a problem in the United States as well that we just haven’t realized yet.
While there has been nothing to conclusively link nanotubes to asthma, there is one worrying possibility: nanotubes act similar to asbestos, a deadly material that irritates the lungs and can cause a host of significant ailments, including cancer.
And these nanotubes are being found elsewhere, according to the report: from spider webs in India to the ice at the poles.
However, the scientists aren’t quite ready to pin these asthma problems on nanootubes, because it is in such a low concentration that it wouldn’t seem possible, but the reality is scientists don’t know what nanotubes can do to the human body.
They came to their conclusions after taking samples from 69 asthma patients who were younger than 17 but at least 2 years old.
More research will be needed to determine what the effect of nanotubes is on the human body, but it is certainly a suspect, and it has been found everywhere, even in random swabs of dust around the city of Paris.
Rice University released a statement describing the findings of their study, which can be found here.