] To see what might happen if buckyballs got into the
] environment, Eva Oberdörster, an aquatic scientist at
] Southern Methodist University, put some into a fish tank
] at a concentration of 0.5 parts per million, along with
] nine largemouth bass. The buckyball-breathing fish
] experienced significant brain damage after 48 hours.
] Brain-cell membranes were disrupted, an affliction that
] has been linked to illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease
] in humans.
] Oberdörster's unpublished study, which was released last
] week, is one of the few completed studies looking at the
] potential risks of nanomaterials. There is some cause for
] concern. Two recent studies documented lung damage in
] animals after they inhaled a type of buckyball called a
] carbon nanotube. Another showed that nanoparticles can
] get into the brain if inhaled.
] They're also small enough to cross cell walls and leak
] into the nucleus, the home of an organism's DNA. And, in
] the case of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, they can kill
] bacteria. That's good news in a hospital, but bad news in
] the environment, where bacteria are extremely important
] for maintaining soil fertility, among other things.
Wired News: Big Concern for Very Small Things