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E-M:/ nanomaterials coming to a consumer product near you - but watch out!!!



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Enviro-Mich message from Tracey Easthope <tracey@ecocenter.org>
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Industry and academia are moving quickly into the area of nanotechnology
but lots of questions remain unanswered about this technology.


"This is just looking at the human health effects, not how to test the impact on the broader environment," said Barbara Karn, an environmental scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency, the sponsor of the study. "That's also very important but eco-toxicity involves different types of tests."


NYT October 6, 2005

Experts Give Scientists Roadmap on Nanotechnology Research
By BARNABY FEDER

 Little is known so far about whether materials being invented by
nanotechnology researchers can be hazardous to humans  and if so, under what
conditions.

But at least toxicologists studying such questions now have a broad roadmap
from a government-sponsored panel of experts on how to proceed.

Formally titled "Principles for characterizing the potential human health
effects from exposure to nanomaterials: elements of a screening strategy",
the 85 page report, along with supporting documents, was published yesterday
on the website of Particle and Fibre Toxicology, an online scientific
journal.
 "This is just looking at the human health effects, not how to test the
impact on the broader environment," said Barbara Karn, an environmental
scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency, the sponsor of the study.
"That's also very important but eco-toxicity involves different types of
tests."

snip

Nanotechnology is a collection of processing skills and products in which
crucial dimensions are measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter, a
scale so tiny that molecular forces affect behavior. The report is concerned
with materials, either natural or manmade, with at least one dimension
smaller than 100 nanometers that is crucial to their behavior.

snip

The report focuses primarily on just one half of the risk  the likely toxic
impact of nanoparticles in the body. There is little comment on how to study
the second crucial issue, the actual risk of exposure, because there are
currently few instances where people are directly exposed to the new
materials.

The report emphasizes the need to characterize the particles in numerous
ways, including shape, surface area, electrical characteristics and how
likely they are to quickly form clumps that interact with the body
differently than separate particles. It also describes a variety of tests
for studying the impact of the materials on different organs and to test the
different impacts of eating, breathing or touching the particles.


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