December 5, 2011
A few days ago, West Virginia Public Broadcasting did a story on Marshall University research findings that diesel fuel additives can harm the liver.
A U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored study conducted at Huntington, West Virginia’s university shows that the nanoparticles commonly added to diesel fuel to increase fuel efficiency can pass through the airways and travel from the lungs to the liver, resulting in liver damage.
Marshall’s Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems found an increase in the amount of cerium in the livers of animals that had been exposed to these nanoparticles. The increase in cerium is associated with elevations of liver enzymes in the blood.
Marshall’s Eric Blough, team leader for the research, says, “As more and more materials are beginning to incorporate these nanoparticles, we think that it is important to try to determine if these materials have effects on the environment or on physiology, so this is a first study to look at the potential toxicity of cerium oxide nanoparticles on the liver”.
According to the report, cerium oxide nanoparticles are also part of polishing agents for glass mirrors, television parts and ophthalmic lenses – the lenses the eye doctor places in front of our eyes and next to our nose and mouth. Where we breathe. After watching the morning news and getting dressed in front of mirrors.
Here’s where it gets confusing. Other studies have shown that cerium oxide nanoparticles also may act as antioxidants, and could have an assisting role in the treatment of cardiovascular disease and tissue damage caused by radiation exposure.
“It’s important to look at both ends of the spectrum, the therapeutic end and also the toxicity end and that’s what this study is doing,” Blough said.
Ultimately, I guess we’ll meet where most of us already live – somewhere near the middle.