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The Toxicity Of Nanoparticles - A Short Story
Nanoparticles From Nature
“I’ve got to get out of these clothes – fast,” she said. The look of alacrity on her face told him that she had no idea that it was already too late to do anything but wait now. The toxic nanoparticles that she had been exposed to were fast-acting and irreversible, and she probably only had about 10 minutes left.
“I can’t live without you,” was his response, and he meant it. He was talking through a loudspeaker into a quarantined clean room where Crystal was frantically fighting to survive. “Ever since you began working here I knew that there was a reason that our paths crossed. Our work here has been extraordinary as we’ve uncovered the mysteries of the invisible through these microscopes, but the greatest mystery of all is how we found each other.” Brown was a tough man and he looked away to hide the tears beginning to emerge in the corners of his eyes like summer morning dew. Crystal had joined the nanotechnology firm nearly two years ago and she was the best worker he had ever hired as team manager of the research division. They had both seemed to know from the start that they were meant for each other, and so he had asked her to marry him almost a year ago. Since then things had been more difficult than expected, and the married couple had their fair share of arguments. Realizing that he was going to lose her was more than Brown could take.
“It was the neurotoxin aggregation,” Crystal said. She knew that he already must be aware of this from the alarm light that was flashing above, but she affirmed it as if not knowing what else to say. Quantum Nano Inc. had been commissioned by the government to research and develop a synthetic chlorotoxin nanoparticle to assist the medical community with cancer gene therapy and reducing the overall spread of cancer throughout the human body. Modeled after the “death stalker” scorpion’s venom, the nanoparticles had made the firm rich. The success had led to a top secret project to develop and synthesize more toxic nanoparticles that could be used as a weapon against foreign enemies. A series of precautions was supposed to keep all of the workers safe from any exposure due to the toxicity of the product. Somehow the safeguards had failed Crystal.
He tried to assist her with a serene voice not knowing which words would be the last that she heard, but calming her in these last moments felt like his purpose. He looked at the clock - 5 minutes had passed. She was sitting down now with her face in her hands, crying at the circumstance. Nearly inaudible and as still as a countryside eclipsed by a snowstorm, her cries became fainter.
Brown checked the instrument panel where he was standing but the first responder gauges revealed no readings regarding the amount of toxic nanoparticles in the air circulation. The sensors must have been disabled somehow and he needed to know whether the toxicity would soon overwhelm the ventilation containment system. It might just be the outside link to the data, maybe she could get an accurate reading from inside with the portable Nanotrace device.
“Can you get the concentration level on the Aerasense?,” he asked, but there was nothing but soft cries as Crystal sat alone in what must be her own personal execution chair. Moments later she looked up and into his eyes through the Lexapro separation wall. If ever he had seen agony of a greater intensity he did not know where. Tears dripped down her face and onto the floor as if she had just emerged from a rainstorm, taking her mascara with it for the free fall. He could take it no more.
“I love you,” were the last words that escaped before he joined her in tears.
She reached for the nanoparticle toxicity unit and turned it on, already knowing what the particle concentration measurement would be. She held the digital display up so that he could see as well and turned on the external sensors.
“It’s ok,” she said.
He looked at the unit unsure whether the correct results were being displayed. A second glance at the revived external gauges matched the number he saw on the system she was holding. How could it be? They both read zero particles/cm3. There were no toxic nanoparticles loose.
She looked at him with an apologetic stare – “I just had to know.”