April 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the German Federal
Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) issued an update
on efforts to understand why "Magic Nano" -- a household
glass and ceramic tile sealant in an aerosol can
-- may have caused respiratory problems when used
in confined spaces. This is the first health-related
recall of an alleged nanotechnology consumer product.
BfR's press release is available at http://www.bfr.bund.de/cms5w/sixcms/detail.php/7750 .
"Magic Nano" was first sold in supermarkets and
discount stores in late March. It was recalled by
the manufacturer, Kleinmann GmbH (a subsidiary of
Illinois Tool Works) after BfR issued a product warning
on March 31. Between March 27 and March 30, 97 people
who reportedly used the aerosol spray claimed to
suffer from health problems ranging from trouble
breathing to six cases requiring hospital treatment
in which water accumulated in the lungs (pulmonary
Despite meetings between BfR and the manufacturer,
clear information on what is in the product and how "Magic
Nano" was tested for safety is still lacking. According
to BfR, it is possible that the reported health effects
were associated with very fine airborne droplets
produced by the aerosol product.
Dr. Andrew Maynard, science advisor to the Project
on Emerging Nanotechnologies, is an internationally
recognized expert on airborne particles. According
to Maynard, aerosol sprays can produce respirable
particles a few micrometers in size that can remain
airborne for long periods of time and can reach the
sensitive deep lung if inhaled. Once deposited, there
is the possibility of chemicals or nanoparticles
(if present) in the droplets causing damage.
Last month, the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
issued the first publicly available, online inventory
of over 200 consumer products that manufacturers
claim to be made with nanomaterials or use nanotechnology
(see: http://www.nanotechproject.org/consumerproducts ).
Ten products in the Project's inventory are described
as "sprays" but most are pump action sprays. "Magic
Nano" is the only known, maker-identified nanotechnology
product available to consumers in the form of an
aerosol can. "Pump action sprays typically form droplets
that are much larger than those from aerosol cans," said
Maynard. "These are less likely to reach the sensitive
deep lung when inhaled."
Irrespective of whether the "nano" here is the root
of the health problem, a contributing factor, or
a false lead, Maynard sees this incident as a wake-
up call. "Other companies using or hoping to use
nanotechnology should take note: Without greater
transparency on what nanomaterials are being used,
how their safety is being evaluated, and appropriate
research into nanotechnology's potential human health
and environmental impacts, it is difficult for consumers
and policymakers to separate the responsible companies
from the less responsible ones, and the safe nanoproducts
from the potentially harmful ones."
Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate
and manufacture things usually between 1 and 100
nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter;
a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers wide.
To reach Dr. Andrew Maynard for an interview, contact
Sharon McCarter, Director of Outreach and Communications,
at email@example.com or
The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies was launched
in 2005 by the Wilson Center and The Pew Charitable
Trusts. It is dedicated to helping business, governments
and the public anticipate and manage the possible
health and environmental implications of nanotechnology.
Phone: (202) 691-4016