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Tiny tubes, big pollution

12:10pm, August 28, 2007

From Boston, at a meeting of the American Chemical Society

A tiny industry has a big problem: pollution. In the first study of its kind, researchers have found that the manufacture of carbon nanotubes produces airborne carcinogens and other pollutants.

Thousands of times thinner than a human hair, carbon nanotubes are extremely strong and lightweight. A fledgling industry already produces several tons of the tiny tubes each year to strengthen baseball bats, tennis rackets, and sailing masts. Scientists expect future applications to range from biomedical devices to an elevator reaching into space.

Desirée L. Plata, a postdoctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole (Mass.) Oceanographic I

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