January 16, 2010

The MacMillan Building
4 Crinan Street
London N1 9XW

Having spent decades reading chest x-rays and trying to keep the possibility  of asbestosis in mind along with many other things, I was fascinated by your article Fear in the Dust, Brendan Maher NATURE vol. 468 no. 7326 December 16, 2011 page 884.  I would have bet wrong.  I had believed, without any particular reason to believe, that there was something about the chemical composition of asbestos that caused disease and caused mesothelioma.  I had assumed that the particles were just the way the hazardous chemistry got into the lungs.

It now appears that other minerals can cause mesothelioma if they have fibers of the same size.  That is a caution against invalid assumptions.  But I have now a question.  If it is dimensions alone that make the mineral a hazard to human health, is this something that should be taken into account when assessing the risks of nanotechnology? 


M. Linton Herbert MD 

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