Nanotechnology usually deals with materials between one to one hundred nanometers, although it may deal with things a fair bit larger 1. These materials can be nearly completely made of nanostructures, coatings or simply having nanoparticles mixed into the product 1. It should also be noted, that nanoparticles or similar are not exclusively man-made, for example, ashfall from Volcanoes can contain particles around the size of less than 10 micrometers 2. This paper seeks to show the toxic effects on the public from nanoparticles, as well as the legislation taken to reduce the risk.
Nanoparticles may, and can, have many ways of getting into people. Some ways Nano particles can enter include through food, water, and air 1. Through food, nano-encapsulation, vitamins, certain food products and even indirectly through the food chain are all concerns people may accumulate nanoparticles from 1,3. For water, there is concern with nanoparticles not properly being cleaned from waste water or that the water industry may use nanotechnology 1. Seeing as people do consume the above mentioned regularly, it would indeed be an issue if unwanted nanoparticles enter into a persons’ digestive system through these. Nanoparticles may also be in medical and cosmetic products and because the cells are so small, they may be able to penetrate cells and human tissues 1,4. Air routes for nanoparticles mostly come from breathing in and thus having nanoparticles accumulate and perhaps even diffuse through the lungs 1. As for people who are the most likely to be exposed, it would most likely be those working directly with nanoparticles 4. Now that the ways nanoparticles can get into the body, how do they affect people?
As Nanoparticles enter people’s bodies, they may have adverse affects on the person exposed. Research has found respiratory effects including inflammation and coughing in the lungs, as well as potentially inducing cancer with ultrafine particles, and a major concern is that nanoparticles may have even worse health effects 1. Many studies have indeed found that nanoparticles do have toxic effects 1. One study exposed mice to Carbon Nanotubes and the highest dosed mice suffered horribly more than half of them dying in just a week 1. This could be in part due to the size of the nanoparticles. Due to them being so small, they have a larger surface area and can react more and therefore become more toxic 1. As the effects may be severe, how will new nanoparticles be tested for their toxicity.
An issue that comes out is how they test for nanoparticles and how extensive the testing is. When a new substance is made, it usually has its chemical and physical properties assessed 1. This has the material exposed to both chemical and physical stimuli to find any safety concerns from that It would make sense then that nanoparticles go under similar testing. Some issues on already established were not designed originally for nanoparticles, such as not taking into account of a nanoparticle version of a chemical being smaller and potentially acting differently 1. Nanotechnology being so relatively new, there may just be properties and risks testers may simply not think of to test for in the nanoparticle 1. There is also the issue of how the tests that are performed are done. One issue being that while they do find health effects, these are more on the worst case scenarios and not the amount that could affect people under normal circumstances 1. With some ideas for testing, legislation will need to ensure all parties stay safe and ensure no one gets harmed with nanoparticles.
There has been some legislation to deal with nanoparticles. A main concern with legislation is that they do not want to fall into similar stigma as genetically modified food 1. There are already pieces of legislation out there that could potentially apply to nanoparticles. Such as the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals, also known as REACH 1. While they could apply, the issue that manufacturers may not be applied to these legislation is a possibility 1. This is in part due to the fact that some nanoparticles are not always a new substance or fall under that category, as they still retain enough similarities to the original, bigger substance 1. This may go around some forms of legislation by being considered the same substance under them. As nanoparticles begin to become more and more frequent in the market and just in the general public, legislation will have to become more specific towards nanotechnology to factor in the risks of nanomaterials.
Nanotechnology and the nanoparticles associated with it are still relatively new to industries. While they can have potentially great consequences, there are quite a few ways nanoparticles can enter a person and have a toxic effect on them, perhaps even fatal. More studies on projected amounts people will be exposed to and the effects of these concentrations is required. Legislation will also have to be looked at to more engulf nanoparticles or to simply make more legislation specifically going into
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