Environmental Science And Technology recently published online an article, "Differential Toxicity of Carbon Nanotubes in Drosophila: Larval Dietary Uptake is Benign, but Adult Exposure Causes Locomotor Impairment and Mortality", by Xinyuan Liu and a team of scienticists from the Chemistry, Engineering, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Departments and the Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation of Brown University, that examined reactions to exposure to carbon nanotubes (cnts) in the larval and adult stages of the common fruit fly.
The experiments showed that fruit fly larvae, exposed to cnts since the time of their hatching could absorb and sequester the cnts in their bodily tissues no no evident toxic side effects, even at concentrations of cnts that were four times greater than what they would have encountered in a "normal" environment.
Adult fruit flies, on the other hand, were not so fortunate when exposed to powdered forms of nanoparticles, with effects ranging from a loss of the ability to climb out of a test tube, due to the nanoparticles adhering to the fruit flies feet, to death. At lower levels of concentration and exposure, nanoparticles were found to be transmitted to unexposed adult flies via fly-to-fly contact and grooming behaviors.
Noting that flies have acted as disease vectors throughout human history, the authors note that
In the environment, such transport and redeposition may bring nanoparticles into contract with humans or environmental receptors that would not otherwise be exposed.
As nanoindustries begin to expand and new factories built or old ones converted to new uses, it might be a good idea for corporations to pay close attention not only to their workers exposure to nanoparticles, but also to the potential exposure that insects, which will inevitably find their way into these facilities, may be subject to.