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January 24th, 2008
Nanotech: Tiny Particles, Big Risks
Nanotechnology, one of the fastest growing industries in history, is a major threat to human health and the environment. Or not. The fact is, when it comes to nanotech, we don't have any idea what the facts are.
Nonetheless, manufacturers are rushing ahead to add inadequately tested particles, one nanometer to 100 nanometers in size, to a wide and growing array of consumer products. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, or the length of a fingernail as it grows in a second.
Manipulated at the level of atoms and molecules, these radical particles have fundamentally different physical, chemical and biological properties from the matter from which they were created. Benign materials may become toxic, while their nano-scale allows them to penetrate cells, even breaching the blood-brain barrier.
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