LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists urged industry on Thursday to disclose how it conducts safety tests for products containing nanoparticles.
The Royal Society, an academy of leading scientists, said a new inventory shows that 200 consumer products such as laptops, cosmetics and stain-resistant clothing use nanotechnology.
"We are calling for industry to put the methods they use to test the safety of products containing free nanoparticles, such as some cosmetics, into the public domain because this is one particular area where there is some uncertainty about safety," said Professor Ann Dowling of the Royal Society.
Nanotechnology, which involves manipulating materials and devices on an ultra-small scale, offers tremendous potential. Scientists believe the technology could lead to more powerful computers, advanced medical techniques and longer lasting, more effective medicines.
A report by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering in 2004 concluded that most nanotechnologies posed no new risks but it said there were uncertainties about the effects of free nanoparticles on health and the environment.
Free nanoparticles are not fixed or etched to a larger object but move around. The Royal Society has expressed concern that free nanoparticles could be inhaled, ingested or enter the body through the skin and damage cells.
"Nanoparticles can behave quite differently from larger materials of the same substance," Dowling said.
Nano-nano, says Dork from Ork (to paraphrase the old Robin Williams TV show.)
Nanoparticles are as small as two atoms in size, which can penetrate ANY surface of the human body including cell walls. How nice to know these things are being released into the environment without industry divulging how (or whether) they were tested for safety.
Once again "progress" lurches forward with little regard for the human consequences. I picture cancer rates shooting up before some Homer Simpson scientist says "Doh!"
How long will the disaster-waiting-to-happen approach continue? FIRST you make damn sure a product is safe, THEN you start using it.
"The earth was made round so we can't see too far down the road and know what is coming." -- Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa