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May 19th, 2009
The smaller, the better? Consumer groups sound the alarm over nanotechnology
Self-cleaning windows. Socks that don't smell. Slacks that fend off spilled tomato juice.
Nanotechnolgy, the art and science of manipulating atoms on a nano scale, has generated more than 800 such "miracle" products on the market - and that's probably a gross underestimation. Even Elmer's has a Nano Glue it claims bonds to any surface. And remember when lifeguards had "white noses" due to the zinc oxide in sunscreen? Now almost all sunscreen is made with nano particles, resulting in transparent zinc oxide.
But now, increasingly, the technology that spawned these wonder products is leading some to suggest that small - or, at least, nano small - can sometimes lead to big trouble.
With pharmaceutical giants Bayer, BASF and Pfizer and energy companies like Exxon Mobil furiously pursuing nanotechnology projects, a number of consumer groups are raising the alarm.
"Nanotechnology is said to have the same potential impact on society as did the industrial revolution," Burdock said. "Our job is not to stand in the way of potentially beneficial technology, but to make sure it is used in a safe manner."
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