nanotehnoloogia, nanoteknologia, nanotechnologija, nanotehnologijas, nanoteknologija,
nanotechnologii, nanotecnologia, nanotehnologijo,
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
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
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
Nano Today is an international
magazine devoted to bringing the latest nanoscience
research and policy news to researchers in academia,
industry, and government organizations. Topical reviews
from leaders in their fields form the majority of
each issue, with guest columnists also contributing.
Published quarterly, Nano Today is available free
of charge to registered readers.
Nano Today is available free of charge to registered readers
Register at: http://www.nanotoday.com