Nanomaterials are changing the world – but we still don’t have adequate safety tests for them
Article by Shareen Doak, Martina G.Vijver and Martin Clift published on THE CONVERSATION.
Nanotechnology may well be one of the most talked about industries of the last few years. Predicted to value US$173.95 billion globally by 2025, this fast-moving sector is already delivering major sustainability, health and well-being benefits to society.
Nanomaterials, as the name suggests, are very small, less than a millionth of a metre in size. They have unique physical and chemical features which give them improved properties such as greater reactivity, strength, electrical characteristics and functionality. These benefits have resulted in nanomaterials being incorporated into a wide range of consumer products. The automotive, computing, electronic, cosmetics, sports and healthcare industries all benefit from nanotechnology innovations. New fields have also emerged, such as nanomedicine, which aims to dramatically improve our future ability to treat disease.
But exciting as this may sound, as with any innovation, we must ensure that human health and environmental impacts are considered. And this is not a simple task. Although standard hazard assessments are available for a wide range of things – such as chemical compounds – nanomaterials have unique properties so cannot be evaluated in exactly the same way.
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