UCLA has developed a new testing method that would help manufacturers monitor and test the safety and health risks of engineered nanomaterials. Currently, no government or industry regulations exist for this emerging technology.
A review article in the Feb. 3 issue of the journal Science by Dr. Andre Nel, Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), presents a compelling discussion on the potential toxic effects of nanomaterials and the urgent need for developing safety testing.
Nanotechnology involves manipulating atoms to create tiny molecules, smaller than one one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair. ("Nano" means "one billionth of a meter"). At such a small size, materials exhibit unconventional physical and chemical properties that allow them to perform amazing new feats in the areas of electronics, optics, sensoring, material strength, catalysis, and drug delivery.
Engineered nanomaterials are already being used in sporting goods, tires, stain-resistant clothing, sunscreens, cosmetics, and electronics and will also be utilized increasingly in medicine for purposes of diagnosis, imaging and drug delivery.
The ability of nanotechnology to interact with biological materials leads to the possibility that they may be harmful to humans and the environment. Current understanding of the potential toxicity of nanoparticles is limited, but research indicates that some of these products may enter the human body and become toxic at the cellu
Contact: Rachel Chammpeau
University of California - Los Angeles