Not nearly as dangerous as the press hysteria makes out.
A research team based in Edinburgh, Scotland tested specific types of nanotubes -- collections of tubes which look like asbestos -- in mice. Injecting them to simulate exposure to lung linings resulted in "inflammation and the formation of lesions known as granulomas"
This does not mean that nanotubes, or Buckytubes, are as dangerous as asbestos. It means that specific types of nanotubes -- long, thin tubes allowed to float in mid-air -- could cause the same lesions we know happen with asbestos.
It's a yellow light, a warning. It's not the red light the media is pretending it is. The hysteria, in fact, has a political aim, namely to slow nano-science in general by frightening people into thinking scientists want to kill us.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Carbon nanotubes are, frankly, still a pretty mysterious substance. They can be insulators. They can be high-temperature superconductors. They can focus radiation. These are individual molecules that can, theoretically, reach hundreds of miles in length.
But they are very difficult and expensive to manufacture. They shouldn't be used in applications where they're flying through the air, where they can get into lungs. They're too precious to be used that way in any case.
The same will be true of other nano-materials, and I believe that is what this "hit job" is really all about. With any new material we need to be careful. We need to apply it where it's appropriate, we need to study all its possible impacts. That's sound science.
But media hysteria?