Nanotechnology is defined as “the manipulation or rearrangement of matter in dimensions 1 to 100nm also known as nanoparticles” (What Is Nanotoxicology?, 2013). The rapid development of nanotechnology is believed to have significant benefits on mankind. However, as with possibly all developing technologies, there are bounds to be risks associated with these benefits. To assess these risks, a new discipline known as nanotoxicology has emerged and is corresponding with nanotechnology. Nanotoxicology is defined as “a subfield of toxicology that is concerned with evaluating the potentially toxic effects associated with nanoparticles, and is concerned with devising ways to prevent and treat them once the harmful effects are identified” (What Is Nanotoxicology?, 2013). Nanotechnology has become an increasingly active area of research and is regarded as the first important advance in technology of this millennium. The uses of nanotechnology can be found in science, medicine, military technology, and the commercial sector. There is hardly a field of human endeavor in which nanotechnology has not been said to be likely to play an important role. Exposure to nanoparticles to workers, consumers, and the environment seems inevitable with the increasing production volumes and the increasing number of these commercially available products containing nanoparticles. Studies conducted within the past number of years have indicated that exposure to specific nanopoarticles have increased concerns regarding their possible harmful effects (Maynard, 2012). Some types of nanoparticles are expected to be benevolent, are FDA approved, and are used for making paints, and sunscreen lotion etc. However, there are dangerous nanoparticles and chemicals that have been known for many years. These include: Asbestos, diesel particulate matter, ultra fine particles, DDT, and lead (What Is Nanotoxicology?, 2013). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the health and environmental impacts of nanoparticles. Reasons for Concerns:
Why so much concern? Robert Maynards (2012), argues the fundamental reason being is that when materials are presented in the body in nano-form they tend to behave in an unpredictable way physically, chemically, and toxicologically. The second reason for concern stated by Robert Maynards (2012), is the possible harmful effect nanoparticles have on the environment. Consequently, there is a high interest in protecting the health and safety of scientists who work with nanoscale materials, workers who manufacture these products and consumers who use these products and the general public who may be exposed to nanoparticles. Nanoscale particles can be developed from many different processes. Although these nanoparticles can occur naturally (e.g. some particles produced by forest fires, sea spray, volcanoes) and as an incidental by-product of human activities (e.g. some particles contained in welding fumes, diesel exhaust, cooking smoke), these concerns have focused primarily on nanoscale materials that are intentionally man-made. These are often referred to as engineered nanomaterials. Understanding the behavior and impacts of nanotechnology in human health and the environment is a daunting task that requires multidimensional analysis and solutions. Although nanoparticles have been linked to lung damage, it has not been clear how they cause it. In a study published online June 11 in the newly launched Journal of Molecular Cell Biology Chinese researchers discovered that a class of nanoparticles being widely developed in medicine - ployamidoamine dendrimers (PAMAMs) cause lung damage by triggering a type of programmed cell death known as autophagic cell death. They also showed that using an autophagy inhibitor prevented the cell death and counteracted nanoparticle-induced lung damage in mice. "This provides us with a promising lead for developing strategies to prevent lung damage caused by nanoparticles. Lung damage is the...
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