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February 20th, 2008
Despite an onslaught of research, scientists cannot say which nanomaterials are hazardous to the environment or human health.
The peer-reviewed literature contains thousands of articles documenting results from these kinds of tests, all conducted in an effort to determine the health and safety of nanomaterials. Yet the scientific community has yet to determine which nanomaterials are hazardous to the environment or humans, because of a lack of methodology, metrology, and other basics, including how to actually monitor nanoparticles in air, for example. The diversity of nanomaterials, both existing ones and those to come, also presents a challenge.
Researchers say that the field of ecotoxicology and environmental risk assessment of nanomaterials is still in its infancy after less than a decade of concerted effort. And while snapshots from short-term exposure studies are yielding tantalizing glimpses now, the whole picture provided by long-term data on more subtle effects of nanomaterials is completely missing. New methods and collaborations could bring more definitive information soon. Until then, efforts to understand the hazards of nanomaterials continue in a piecemeal fashion.
American Chemical Society
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