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May 22nd, 2007
Nanotechnology and the environment: beauty rather than beast?
Much has been said about the potential of nanotechnologies to revolutionise the way we live, with the biggest changes forecasted to take place in materials, surveillance and healthcare. The accompanying discussions on the possible side effects of working at the nanoscale may suggest to the casual observer that the environment will be a loser in the nano-revolution. Not so, according to scientists investigating environmental nanotechnology.
Warnings have been sounded about the unknown effects of nanoparticles on human health and the environment, and many have called for studies into ecotoxicology to accompany nano research. Possible dangers are related to: the potential for dispersion and exposure; increased likelihood of chemical reactivity; particles could act as a carrier for contaminants, providing rapid and long-range transport; and the difficulty of recovering material at the end of its life.
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