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

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

Im Focus: The Future of Ultrafast Solid-State Physics

In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.

Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Diamond-like carbon is formed differently to what was believed -- machine learning enables development of new model

19.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Electromagnetic wizardry: Wireless power transfer enhanced by backward signal

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Ultrafast electron oscillation and dephasing monitored by attosecond light source

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>