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« More Research Called For | Main | Too Much Too Soon »

December 06, 2006

Comments

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Brian Wang

Risks need to have the context of the risks and dangers of existing alternatives. The risks of existing technology is not zero. Coal and oil have big risks and actual deaths and environmental damage caused.

John Acrinoe

Is it just me or is the first area of concern (1st generation passive nanostructures) a little daft? If nano sized particle can exist, then the air should already be filled with massive amounts of nano sized debris.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

John, you're half right. Nanoparticles do exist in nature. Dirt contains silica nanoparticles. Existing technologies also release nanoparticles--diesel exhaust, etc.

But just like other chemicals, not all nanoparticles are created equal. Many nanoparticles don't exist in nature--at least not in nearly such high concentrations. Any new substance may create new problems. So it is not daft to worry about the effects of newly invented nanoparticles.

Nanoparticles, depending on the type, may be different from most chemicals. They may migrate through the body differently, they may be more stable (thus their effects would last longer), they may be more chemically active...

Of course, focusing exclusively on nanoparticle risks would be a big mistake. Other kinds of nanotechnology will create other risks--some of them much worse. But nanoparticles are not risk-free.

Chris

Pam

Interesting...a problem we're having is that alot of the nanoparticles that are available are proprietary (like all of them?) and they don't give alot of structural information - so we don't have a clue about how most nanoparticles exist in nature. For example, the ones we work with are stabilized by acetate - and microbes utilize the acetate pretty quickly (our observations) - so what do you then have? One day I think the risks are overstated for funding purposes, and the next day I think (depending on the NP) that they aren't very different from the parent metal. Time will tell I guess (and I agree with the commenters comment about oil/coal, etc - risk is inherent).

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