Nanofibers are have diameters that are less than 1000 nm nanometers wide. They're found in athletic clothes and shoes, as well as rainwear, since they "wick" away sweat and water. They're also found in napkins, cosmetics, and baby diapers, as well as air filters, which is an especial problem since inhaling these nanofibers can cause the lung disease mesothelioma, the same disease that is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. In fact, nanofibers may become "the new asbestos."
Since these don't have to be specifically labeled, there's no way to tell if the clothes you're wearing contain them. When silver nanofibers of varying lengths were injected into the lungs of mice, their lungs became inflamed.
BBC News quotes toxicologist Ken Donaldson as saying, "Concern has been expressed that new kinds of nanofibers being made by nanotechnology industries might pose a risk because they have a similar shape to asbestos."
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