Nanotechnology has the potential to dramatically improve the effectiveness of a number of existing consumer and industrial products and could have a substantial impact on the development of new products in all sectors, ranging from disease diagnosis and treatment to environmental remediation. Because of the broad range of possible nanotechnology applications, continued evaluation of the potential health risks associated with exposure to nanomaterials is essential to ensure their safe handling.
Engineered nanoparticles are materials purposefully produced with at least one dimension between 1 and 100 nanometers. Nanoparticles often exhibit unique physical and chemical properties that impart specific characteristics essential in making engineered materials, but little is known about what effect these properties may have on human health.
Research has shown that the physiochemical characteristics of particles can influence their effects in biological systems. These characteristics include:
- Particle size, shape, surface area, charge
- Chemical properties, solubility, oxidant generation potential, and degree of agglomeration.
Until results from research studies can fully elucidate the characteristics of nanoparticles that may pose a health risk, precautionary measures must be warranted. Today there is no accepted model for the interaction of engineering-nanomaterials with the human body, but there is evidence of the danger of breathing or ingesting these materials.
Nanomaterials have the greatest potential to enter the body through the respiratory system if they are airborne and in the form of respirable-sized particles (nanoparticles). They may also come into contact with the skin or be ingested. Based on results from human and animal studies, airborne nanoparticles can be inhaled and deposit in the respiratory tract; and based on animal studies, nanoparticles can enter the blood stream, and translocate to other organs.
International or national standardization in nanosafety are in process in many countries, but are expected to be ready at about year 2015, in the mean-time, best-practice-approach is to be taken by the relevant industries and research institutions working with nanoparticles.
This tutorial is presenting the state-of-the-art knowhow for the preparation of the interim safety rules for work with nanoparticles in general and engineering nanomaterials in particular.
The Tutorial is presented by Dr. Moshe Oron, until recently, founder and chief scientist of KiloLambda Technologies Ltd. The company is developing and manufacturing nanotechnology based optical filters for protection against laser and strong light sources since 2001.
Moshe Oron was an active member of the IEC committee for Nanotechnology in the last 10 years and is a member of an EC advisory-expert-group for nano-safety.