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August 19th, 2009
Claims that seven Chinese factory workers developed severe lung damage from inhaling nanoparticles are stoking the debate over the environmental-health effects of nanotechnology.
A paper published in the European Respiratory Journal claims to be the first to document cases of ill health caused by nanoparticles in humans (Y. Song, X. Li and X. Du Eur. Respir. J. 34, 559-567; 2009). Other experts are sceptical as to whether nanoparticles are actually to blame, but the paper has triggered lively discussions.
"The study raises the bar for doing appropriate research as fast as possible to find out where the dangers might lie when working with nanomaterials," says Andrew Maynard, a nanotechnology expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.
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