X-Message-Number: 24452
From: "Basie" <>
Subject: Nanotechnology poses threat to health, say scientists 
Date: Sat, 31 Jul 2004 22:11:26 -0400

Nanotechnology poses threat to health, say scientists

Ian Sample, science correspondent
Friday July 30, 2004
The Guardian

New laws are needed to ensure that vanishingly small particles made by the
nanotechnology industry do not pose a threat to humans or the environment,
experts said yesterday.
A government-backed report into nanotechnology from the Royal Academy of
Engineering and the Royal Society, Britain's most prestigious scientific
body, found that while nanotechnology is expected to bring about significant
advances in healthcare, transport and electronics, nanoparticles could be a
cause for concern.

Ann Dowling, the Cambridge University professor who chaired the group behind
the report, said: "Where particles are concerned, size really does matter.
Nanoparticles can behave quite differently from larger particles of the same
material. There is evidence that at least some manufactured nanoparticles
are more toxic than the same chemical in its larger form, but mostly we just
don't know. We don't know what their impact is on either humans or the

Nanotechnology, which describes the manufacture of devices and materials
measuring billionths of a metre across, is already used to make
nanoparticles for sunscreens and cosmetics. The particles are typically made
by reducing lumps of material to an ultrafine powder. In sunscreens,
nanoparticles are used because they absorb and reflect UV rays while
appearing transparent to the naked eye.

Concerns surround nanoparticles because they may be inhaled or absorbed
through the skin with unforeseen health consequences.

While studies have yet to find that nanoparticles in sunscreens are absorbed
deep into the skin, each time we take a breath of air, we inhale mil lions
of nanoparticles, in the form of pollutants from vehicle exhausts and
industrial emissions. Small particles from vehicle pollution have been
linked to a rise in cases of heart and lung conditions. As the
nanotechnology industry grows, some experts believe we could become more
exposed to airborne nanoparticles.

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=24452