Nanotechnology Now





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Researchers probe health and safety impacts of nanotechnology

Abstract:
University of Florida engineering student Maria Palazuelos is working on nanotechnology, but she's not seeking a better sunscreen, tougher golf club or other product — the focus of many engineers in the field.

Instead, Palazuelos, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, is probing the potentially harmful effects of nanotechnology by testing how ultra-small particles may adversely affect living cells, organisms and the environment. But this is no scene from a Michael Crichton's novel "Prey" about nanotechnology run amok. Rather, this is a real-world endeavor grounded in solid science.

Researchers probe health and safety impacts of nanotechnology

GAINESVILLE, FL | Posted on January 30th, 2007

"We don't want to look back in 50 years if something bad has happened and say, ‘why didn't we ask these questions?'" Palazuelos said.

Palazuelos is a member of a small interdisciplinary group of UF faculty members and students, the UF Nanotoxicology Group, whose work is rapidly becoming more timely as manufacturers increasingly turn to the super-small tubes, cylinders and other nanoparticles at the heart of nanotechnology.

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, said Kevin Powers, associate director of UF's National Science Foundation Particle Engineering Research Center. These agencies are turning to university researchers for help in making those kinds of determinations, he said.

"Before we start producing these materials in large quantities to go into everyday products, we should know what effect they have on our health and the environment," he said.

The UF group consists of about 10 faculty members and a half-dozen students from UF's engineering, medical and veterinary colleges. With funding from UF and agencies including the EPA, National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air Force, the researchers have at least eight projects aimed at answering questions ranging from how nanoparticles affect fish to whether nanoparticles can penetrate skin. The researchers have presented several lectures at conferences and have several papers published or undergoing review.

Powers said 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 - and whether these nanoparticles become more or less hazardous based on shape and size. "It's complicated," he said. "In many cases, we lack basic knowledge of the properties and the behavior of the particles themselves."

Palazuelos is investigating what happens to living cells when confronted with aluminum nanoparticles. For the type of cells she has tested, the cells can readily absorb the aluminum nanoparticles, and there is a correlation between size, shape and toxicity. That said, Palazuelos stressed that it is far too early to conclude that aluminum nanoparticles are harmful to human health. Epidemiological studies evaluating years of exposure to aluminum in foundry workers and welders have not shown dramatic health effects as long as basic safety and exposure guidelines are followed, she said.

"It is a long way from isolated tissue studies to the extrapolation of these results to human health," she said. "However, a fundamental understanding of the nanoparticle-cell interactions will be very useful in this field."

Copper and some other metals are known to be toxic to fish and other aquatic wildlife. UF toxicologist David Barber is investigating whether nanoparticles made of these metals are more toxic than standard soluble forms of the metals. As part of his research, he has exposed zebra fish, a species commonly used in laboratory tests, to various concentrations of copper nanoparticles and compared the results with those induced by copper sulfate.

His results so far show that the 30-nanometer, spherical copper nanoparticles are lethal to zebra fish, though less toxic than copper sulfate. However, the way the copper nanoparticles cause damage is different. "Both of them are causing lethality by affecting the gill," Barber said. "The lesion is slightly different, and the gene expression response in the gills is very different."

Barber said he hopes to determine whether the size or shape of the nanoparticle is key to its effects. If that's the case, it could mean a lot of work ahead for regulatory agencies.

"Typically, when you test a chemical, the response is the same regardless of formulation. Aspirin is always aspirin," Barber said. "If all of a sudden every time you change the size or the shape of a nanoparticle you have to retest it; that's a lot of testing."

####

About University of Florida
UF is a major, public, comprehensive, land-grant, research university. The state's oldest, largest and most comprehensive university, Florida is among the nation's most academically diverse public universities. Florida has a long history of established programs in international education, research and service. It is one of only 17 public, land-grant universities that belongs to the Association of American Universities.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
http://news.ufl.edu/contact/

Copyright © University of Florida

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Preparing for Nano

Durnham University's DEEPEN project comes to a close September 26th, 2012

Technical Seminar at ANFoS 2012 August 22nd, 2012

Nanotechnology shows we can innovate without economic growth April 12th, 2012

Thailand to host NanoThailand 2012 December 18th, 2011

Announcements

Basel physicists develop efficient method of signal transmission from nanocomponents May 23rd, 2015

This Slinky lookalike 'hyperlens' helps us see tiny objects: The photonics advancement could improve early cancer detection, nanoelectronics manufacturing and scientists' ability to observe single molecules May 23rd, 2015

Visualizing How Radiation Bombardment Boosts Superconductivity: Atomic-level flyovers show how impact sites of high-energy ions pin potentially disruptive vortices to keep high-current superconductivity flowing May 23rd, 2015

New Antibacterial Wound Dressing in Iran Can Display Replacement Time May 22nd, 2015

Environment

Conversion of Greenhouse Gases to Syngas in Presence of Nanocatalysts in Iran May 22nd, 2015

Directa Plus in Barcelona to present the innovative project GEnIuS for oil spills clean-up activities: The company has created a graphene-based product for the remediation of water contaminated by oil and hydrocarbons May 21st, 2015

Nano-policing pollution May 13th, 2015

Chemists strike nano-gold: 4 new atomic structures for gold nanoparticle clusters: Research builds upon work by Nobel Prize-winning team from Stanford University April 28th, 2015

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

Statement by QD Vision regarding European Parliament’s Vote on Cadmium-Based Quantum Dots May 20th, 2015

SUNY Poly CNSE and NIOSH Launch Federal Nano Health and Safety Consortium: May 20th, 2015

Cotton fibres instead of carbon nanotubes May 9th, 2015

Nanoparticles in consumer products can significantly alter normal gut microbiome May 4th, 2015

Human Interest/Art

INSIDDE: Uncovering the real history of art using a graphene scanner May 21st, 2015

Winner Announced for NNI’s First ‘EnvisioNano’ Nanotechnology Image Contest May 6th, 2015

To Conserve London's 300-Year-Old Masterpiece, Nanotech & Drones April 12th, 2015

2015 Nanonics Image Contest January 29th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project