Son of Asbestos : How Nanomaterials Could Harm You

Like asbestos in the last century, Nanomaterials have been hailed as a "miracle" substance and found their way in anything from beauty creams to clothing but experts are now saying that its effect on the nation's health could potentially be equivalent to a health time-bomb.

A study by the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) says that nanomaterials are now commonly found in hundreds of everyday products and is pushing for more researches to be carried out on the impact of nanomaterials on people's health and environment.

Nanotechnology have been presented as a potential solution to overheating computer chips made up of carbon nanotube arrays which are not only much smaller than current solutions but also much more resistant; and these superb characteristics explain of the problem.

Because they are so small, nanomaterials can penetrate human cells and cause damage similar to Asbestos. Human hair is on average 100 micrometre thick, Asbestos particles can be is 0.01 micrometre thick, while Carbon nanotubes can be up to 1/50,000th the diametre of the human hair.

Furthermore, tests using silver nanofibres have shown that they can be twice as toxic as bleach for living organism.

Nanomaterials - like Genetically Modified products - are relatively new and their impact and applications have yet to be properly assessed.

In Sir John Lawton's own words (he chaired the RCEP) : "Would we know if nanomaterials were causing harm? The answer is, no we wouldn't. We have no evidence that they cause harm, but a lot of that is because of a lack of evidence"

Related Links

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- Commission urges action over nanotechnology pollution

- UK Royal Commission Raises Concerns About Nanomaterials

- Revealed: The toxic nanoparticles with asbestos-like properties found in everyday goods

- Is nanotechnology a health timebomb?

- Nanomaterials may be cause for alarm