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February 1st, 2010
Many researchers working with nanomaterials use inadequate protection, if any at all, and most don't use special disposal methods for nanomaterials, claims a new study.
As most nations don't have specific regulations for nanomaterials, rules to protect researchers fall to individual institutions. Nearly half of the 240 respondents to a survey analysed by a team at the Nanoscience Institute of Aragon at the University of Zaragoza in Spain reported that no regulations were enforced by their institutions, and another 27 per cent were not sure.
Assessing risks posed by nanomaterials is a complicated matter, as the study authors themselves point out, because potential dangers depend on several factors including size, shape, chemical composition, and solubility. So far, most studies have focused on toxicity and mortality rather than the chronic exposure experienced by scientists in labs. Standard, acceptable levels of exposure have not yet been determined.
'We are nanotechnology researchers ourselves, and many times we are faced with the problem of how to handle our materials, how to avoid contamination, how to dispose of them, and so on,' says co-author Jesus Santamaria.
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