New Safety Directions for Nanotechnology

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New Safety Directions for Nanotechnology

science Thursday, August 27, 2009 . This is a SciScoop post by ashraf

    Exposure is a key element in risk assessment of nanostructures. The environmental impacts of nanotechnology have become an increasingly active area of research. Until recently the potential negative impacts of nanomaterials on human health and the environment have been rather speculative and unsubstantiated.

    However, within the past number of years several studies have indicated that exposure to specific nanomaterials, e.g. nanoparticles, can lead to a gamut of adverse effects in humans and animals. This has made some people very concerned drawing specific parallels to past negative experiences with small particles.

    Some types of nanoparticles are expected to be benign and are FDA approved and used for making paints and sunscreen lotion etc. However, there are also dangerous nanosized particles and chemicals that are known to accumulate in the food chain and have been known for many years.

    In response to the above concerns, researchers have discovered a new bio-safe and bio-compatible route for the synthesis of magnesium oxide nanostructures. The route is based on simple reaction of water and magnesium powder. Since water is regarded as a benign solvent and non toxic, the product (nanostructures) could be used safely for biomedical and other applications.

    M.A. Shah of Taif University, Saudi Arabia and A.H Quarshi, of Toyma University, Japan both hailing from Indian part of Kashmir have developed a versatile approach for making magnesium oxide nanostructures that avoids organic solvents altogether. In their approach, magnesium powder is added to water, blasted with ultrasound for few minutes and then warmed at a temperature of 100 Celsius for 24 hours. X-ray and field emission electron microscopy studies reveal the product to be uniform nanoneedles of 40 to 60 nanometers.

    We have found that we can use pure water in a simple and straightforward approach…suitable for large scale production.

    The proposed method is fast, economical, environmentally benign and free of pollution, which will make it suitable for large scale production.

    The health and environmental effects of common metals and materials are well-known. The question for the researchers is whether the effects change when the metals and materials take the form of nanoparticles/nanorods – and whether these nanoparticles become more or less hazardous based on shape and size. “It’s complicated,” shah said. “In many cases, we lack basic knowledge of the properties and the behavior of the particles themselves.”

    There are already more than 400 companies worldwide that tap nanoparticles and other forms of nanotechnology, and regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration are closely examining whether new regulations are needed to guard against potentially harmful but currently unknown effects.

    It is worth mentioning that within a decade, nanotechnology could be used in nearly half of new products from computer devices to cancer like disease treatments, renewable energy sources, lightweight manufacturing components in cars and aeroplanes, agents for environmental remediation, water filters for removal of viruses, contaminants and salt for the entire world. Such potential strides explain why nanotechnology is viewed as key to future economic growth and why technologically advanced countries are earnestly pursuing its development across the globe.

    Long-term developments are likely to occur in convergence with other emerging technologies, such as biotechnology and information technology, where nanotechnology will serve as an enabler of the new product. It creates an opportunity to integrate education across physical and biological sciences, the social sciences and even humanities. Such integration is emblematic of new ways of thinking about the future and the workplace. The new technology will provide technological platform for industry, medicine and overall economy.

    Research Blogging IconShah, M., & Qurashi, A. (2009). Novel surfactant-free synthesis of MgO nanoflakes Journal of Alloys and Compounds, 482 (1-2), 548-551 DOI: 10.1016/j.jallcom.2009.04.129

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    1 Response to New Safety Directions for Nanotechnology

    Imtiaz Shah

    March 25th, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    It pleased me a lot and hopefully everybody else that biomedical science is getting so many solutions from research done by physicists and chemists. This is the way of avoiding the problems persisting in medical science in the present time. Really our environment is becoming luxurious day by day because of these inventions. At last it seems nice that both scientists come from a remote area of Kashmir i.e. Kupwara

    Shah Imtiaz Ahmad
    M.Phil stud.of energy and environment
    DAVV Indore

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