26 Jan 2012:
Panel Urges Comprehensive
Study Of Nanotechnology Safety
A U.S. scientific panel is calling for a systematic study of the growing use of nanomaterials in industry
, saying little is known about the risk of the microscopic particles increasingly being used in everything
Nanotech: The Unknown Risks
Nanotechnology, now used in everything from computers to toothpaste, is booming. But as Carole Bass
reported in 2008, there were already rising concerns that its development was outpacing our understanding of how to use it safely.
READ THE e360 REPORT
from cosmetics to clothing and paint. The National Research Council (NRC), part of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, noted that the use of nanomaterials — measured on the scale of billionths of a meter — is growing rapidly, rising from $225 billion in nanotechnology-based products in 2009 to an estimated $3 trillion by 2015. But the NRC said that little is known about the potential risks
posed by nanomaterials, the pathways and plausibility of exposure, and the severity of such exposure. The NRC called for a systematic research effort
that would identify sources of nanomaterials releases, the different industrial processes that affect exposure and hazards, and nanomaterial interactions from a sub-cellular to an ecosystem level. Nanomaterials — often made from minerals such as gold, silver, carbon, zinc, and aluminum — have unique electrical, chemical, and optical properties. “The number and variety of nanomaterials is just mind-boggling,” said Mark R. Wiesner, an engineering professor at Duke University and a member of the panel.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.