How toxic carbon nanotubes are on cells apparently depends on what lab tests are used to examine them, experts told UPI's Nano World.
Carbon nanotubes are pipes mere nanometers or billionths of a meter wide. They are the darlings of the nanotech world because they are up to 100 times stronger than steel at one-sixth the weight and posses a bevy of superb electronic properties to boot.
Scientists and the public have also focused on concerns on how toxic carbon nanotubes may be against people and the environment. When inhaled, scientists have found carbon nanotubes can trigger masses of inflamed tissue in mice and rats. However, results from tests on cells have proven confusing, with some indicating carbon nanotubes are highly toxic and others showing no trace of toxicity.
Toxicologists at the Karlsruhe Research Centre in Germany examined the impact of single-walled carbon nanotubes on human lung cells in vitro. One test used a water insoluble salt known as MTT to investigate nanotube impact on the function of mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell. It found a toxicity of roughly 50 percent. However, a similar test measuring mitochondrial function using a water soluble salt known as WST showed no toxicity.