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14.3.08

Technology's Rewards

Did you know that some products we use like toothpaste, sunscreen, stain resistant clothing, food additives and cosmetics contain nanoparticles that are potentially dangerous to our health? Nanoparticles are atomsized forms of matter resulting from the use of nanotechnology.

“Nanotechnology is the engineering of tiny machines — the projected ability to build things from the bottom up personal nanofactories (PNs), using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, highly advanced products. Ultimately, nanotechnology will enable control of matter at the nanometer scale, using mechanochemistry. Shortly after this envisioned molecular machinery is created, it will result in a manufacturing revolution, probably causing severe disruption. It also has serious economic, social, environmental, and military implications".

How small is a nanoparticle?

"A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, roughly the width of three or four atoms. The average human hair is about 25,000 nanometers wide”.

A "Washington, D.C.–based environmental group Friends of the Earth (FoE) reports that none of the more than 100 food or food-related products it identified that contain nanoparticles—puny particles between 100 and one nanometers—bears a warning label or has undergone safety testing by government agencies".

"The environmental group charged that the federal government has failed to protect consumers from the potential dangers of nanoparticles and called for a ban on their use in food and food-related products until they have been thoroughly tested to rule out health risks"

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently does not specifically require nanoparticles to be proved safe but does require manufacturers to provide tests showing that the food goods employing them—be it beer or baby products—are not harmful. "Industry would bear the burden of demonstrating the safety of the material under its intended conditions of use," says FDA spokesperson Christopher Kelly. "Nanoparticle versions of [FDA-approved] materials may well be new materials" that would trigger new investigations, "and this is considered on a case-by-case basis."

"To date, there are few published industry, government or scientific studies on the health and environmental impacts of nanoparticles. Further complicating the matter is the fact that nanoparticles have been in the food supply for years. "Nanoparticles have been in food products for decades, we just never realized they were there," says physicist Andrew Maynard, chief science advisor to the Wilson Center project. "We need to better understand how nano can be benign in foods, but [also] where the dangers are."

"For example, it remains unclear whether nanoparticles used in food packaging might migrate or leach into food or beverages. And it is completely unknown what impact a wide variety of these nanoparticles might have on human health".

View "How Safe are Nanoparticles?" full article here .
Another write-up "Do nanofood particles in food pose a health risk?" here.

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