A Nano-Mesothelioma False Alarm
Volume 5, Issue 3
John C. Monica, Jr., Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP
John C. Monica, John C. Monica, LLC
In May 2008, a scientific study (the “Poland Study”) was published in Nature Nanotechnology—which sparked a rash of popular media claims that like asbestos, exposure to carbon nanotubes may cause mesothelioma. In this article, a team led by lawyer John Monica evaluates the Poland Study in a potential litigation context to determine its significance, if any, in legally establishing that the inhalation of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (“MWCNTs”) causes mesothelioma. After first considering the reliability of the Poland Study's design and execution, they conclude that it would not be admissible in a court of law because it fails Daubert standards. Specifically, they argue that: (i) the design and execution of the Poland Study are not generally accepted in the scientific community for the purposes offered; (ii) in order to reach the conclusion that inhalation of MWCNTs may cause mesothelioma, an expert would have to use the Poland Study in such a manner as to extrapolate from an accepted premise to an unfounded conclusion; and, (iii) the Study's authors failed to adequately account for obvious alternative explanations (confounders), including surface chemistry, sample contamination, sample commingling, spontaneous formation of granulomas, and possible mouse colony infections.
Full Text (PDF)