Nano-Pollution and Morgellon’s Disease

buckyball generated with Nanotube ModelerI have been thinking about about the environmental and medical effects of nano-pollution. Nanotechnology is a catch-all phrase that describes microscopic man-made objects. These come in many shapes and sizes – soccer-ball-shaped cages made of 60 carbon atoms, nanotubes the thickness of a hair, among others.

These objects persist in the environment after they’ve been used and disposed of. There has been little, if any, investigation into the effects of exposure to environmental nanotechnology.

Nanotechnological pollution is on the horizon. Fortunately, at least one group is looking into it. The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) is trying to put together a multi-disciplinary collaborative network to establish guidelines for safely handling nano-materials.

We don’t have very long to get the guidelines and some procedures in place. An emerging illness called Morgellons Disease is quite possibly the earliest indication of what we can all expect from nano-pollution.

“Morgellons disease” is the name given to a cluster of symptoms that includes skin lesions, often with small fibers in the lesion. Fascinating stuff. Right now the medical profession is pooh-poohing it as a symptom of mental illness – Delusional Parasitosis. The folks at the Morgellons Research Foundation have posted as much information as is available on their web site.

The medical profession as a whole is particularly unscientific when it comes to identifying and treating new illnesses. Have you noticed? You can buy a lot of time if you pass the patient off to a psychiatrist.

It is possibile that some, if not all, cases of Morgellons are the result of exposure to tiny bits of nano-technology. These objects may lodge almost invisibly in the skin, causing unexplained lesions. Larger nanotubes or groups of smaller ones may appear to be fibers. According to a recent article in Popular Science, many of these objects are so small that when inhaled they can be carried directly into the brain using the same pathways as smells do.

Reading the Morgellons information reminded me of the few times I’ve come in direct contact with fiberglass insulation. You can’t see it, but it is painful and itchy. What if the fibers were microscopic? Would they still cause discomfort? I don’t know.

The dangers of asbestos were ignored for decades while thousands of workers died of the lung cancer it is now known to cause. I hope we don’t repeat the story with BuckyBalls.

Comments are closed.

Bad Behavior has blocked 490 access attempts in the last 7 days.