Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How Safe Is Nano?

28.01.2011
Nanotoxicology: An interdisciplinary challenge

The rapid development of nanotechnology has increased fears about the health risks of nano-objects. Are these fears justified? Do we need a new discipline, nanotoxicology, to evaluate the risks? Harald F. Krug and Peter Wick of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology discuss these questions in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

“Research into the safety of nanotechnology combines biology, chemistry, and physics with workplace hygiene, materials science, and engineering to create a truly interdisciplinary research field,” explain Krug and Wick. “There are several factors to take into account in the interaction of nano-objects with organisms,” they add. The term nanotoxicology is fully justified. “Nanoscale particles can enter into cells by other means of transport than larger particles.” Another critical feature is the large surface area of nano-objects relative to their volume. If a similar amount of substance is absorbed, an organism comes into contact with a significantly larger number of molecules with nanoparticles than with larger particles. Dose–effect relationships cannot therefore be assumed to be the same. Furthermore, chemical and physical effects that do not occur with larger particles may arise. “Whether the larger or smaller particle is more toxic in any given case cannot be predicted,” according to the authors. “Clearly, the type of chemical compound involved and its conformation in a specific case can also not be ignored.” Carbon in the form of diamond nanoparticles is harmless, whereas in the form of nanotubes—depending on length and degree of aggregation—it may cause health problems. It is also thus impossible to avoid considering each nanomaterial in turn.

For a risk assessment, it is also necessary to keep in mind what dosage would be considered realistic and that not every observed biological effect automatically equates to a health risk.

Krug and Wick indicate that a large amount of data about the biological effects of nanomaterials is available, but not all studies are reliable. Sometimes it is not possible to reproduce the specific material tested or the conditions. “By pointing out methodological inadequacies and making concrete recommendations for avoiding them, we are hoping to contribute to a lasting improvement in the data,” state Krug and Wick.

About the authors: Krug is Director of the “Materials Meet Life” department at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), member of the Governing Board of the DECHEMA (Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology) working group on the responsible use of nanomaterials, and advises German federal government departments, as well as government departments in Switzerland, on the subject of nanotechnology. Wick is Director of the Materials-Biology Interactions division of Empa and works on national and international projects concerned with nano-safety as well as serving on the Editorial Board of the journal Nanotoxicology.

Author: Harald F. Krug, Empa–Materials Science & Technology, St. Gallen (Switzerland), http://www.empa.ch/abt274

Title: Nanotoxicology: An Interdisciplinary Challenge

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201001037

Harald F. Krug | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:
http://www.empa.ch/abt274
http://pressroom.angewandte.org

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Flying: Efficiency thanks to Lightweight Air Nozzles
23.10.2017 | Technische Universität Chemnitz

nachricht Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer
20.10.2017 | Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>