Carbon nanotubes and other fullerene-related nanocrystals in the environment: A TEM study
Carbon nanotubes and other fullerene-related nanocrystals are ubiquitous in the atmospheric environment—both indoor and outdoor. In fact, these nanostructures have been observed even in a 10,000 year-old ice core sample, indicating their natural existence in antiquity, probably as natural gas/methane combustion products. Similar carbon nanotubes and complex carbon nanocrystal aggregates are observed to be emitted from contemporary combustion sources such as kitchen stoves (natural gas and propane), water heater and furnace exhaust vents, natural gas-burning (electric) power plants, and industrial furnace operations, among others. These observations have been made by collecting nanoparticulates and nanocrystal aggregates on carbon/formvar and silicon monoxide/formvarcoated 3 mm grids that were examined with a transmission-electron microscope. This study begins to establish an environmental context for considering the potential impact of future nanostructured particles on human health.