Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Beyond the hype and the scare stories, how safe are nanoparticles?

18.05.2006


Nanotechnology has been touted as the next technology revolution, transforming everything from communications to medicine, water decontamination to homeland security. But scientific progress has been accompanied by fears over unknown consequences of nanotechnology, with one pressure group even calling for a moratorium on all research until more is known. More specific concerns have been voiced by various parties – including the UK Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering – about exposure to manufactured nano-sized particles and the possible harmful effects on human health.



The future success of nanotechnology will depend on rational and informed work to understand and minimize these potential adverse effects on health and the environment. This is where Andrew Maynard of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars steps in. He explains what is known about effects of nanoparticles on the body in the latest issue of Nano Today magazine.

“We need to understand both how harmful a substance is, and how much of it can get into the body, if risk is to be understood and managed,” says Maynard.


Nanoparticles may have greater reactivity, and so toxicity, than larger sized particles. Because of their size, nanoparticles may also evade some of the body’s natural defense systems and accumulate in some tissues. But currently, there is little information on the impact of engineered nanoparticles, and what there is can be contradictory.

Maynard begins by saying that not all nanomaterials are likely to be of concern. He sets out from the vast range of available nanoscale materials those that are likely to be relevant to human health. Maynard then reviews what has been established about the behavior of nanomaterials in the body, considering how nanoparticles may get into the body via the lungs, skin, or digestive system as well as possible toxic effects.

But risks from even harmful nanoparticles only arise if there has been exposure to a high enough dose. The current picture of how nanomaterials might be released and dispersed in the environment is described in the article, as well as ways of measuring exposure.

“Not only is it necessary to consider the potential for engineered nanomaterials to be released in a form that leads to exposure, chemical and structural transformations between the point of release and the point of exposure will also likely determine health impact,” explains Maynard.

Maynard suggests how potential risks should be managed alongside public awareness of the issues. By providing a context for considering these risks, he is able to suggest directions for further work to ensure the development of safe nanotechnology-based products.

This article appears in the May issue of Nano Today magazine, which covers current issues in nanotechnology. Highlights from the other articles include:

* While the potential harmful effects of nanoparticles in the environment are often highlighted, one beneficial proposed application is the removal of contaminants from groundwater. Paul G. Tratnyek and Richard L. Johnson from Oregon Health & Science University discuss the benefits and remaining uncertainties of the remediation of contaminated groundwater using nanoparticles containing zero-valent iron (nZVI).

* There are already over 200 products on the market that include nanosized materials or components, according to a recent report. The growing commercialization of products exploiting nanomaterials has been accompanied by increasing calls for regulation. Paula Gould investigates how regulatory bodies are approaching the problems of agreeing measurement standards and regulating exposure to nanoparticles.

* R. P. H. Chang of Northwestern University believes we should make the most of the excitement and novelty surrounding ‘nano’ to spark young people’s interest in science. Certainly, various nanoscience courses have been put together around the world for undergraduates, postgraduates, and even school children. Peter Goodhew of the University of Liverpool, UK looks at how these courses have sought to balance teaching new nano-related material with the basics of conventional science.

James Quinney | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nanotoday.com

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'
26.05.2017 | University of Leicester

nachricht Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect
24.05.2017 | Vienna University of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>