Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Nanotechnology, which is fast emerging as the future science that promises a thousand things including cure for complicated diseases, could prove to be toxic for human beings, animals and environment

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Nanotechnology, which is fast emerging as the future
science that promises a thousand things including cure for complicated
diseases, could prove to be toxic for human beings, animals and
environment.

Nanoparticles are extremely minute and this makes them potential
agents of toxicity to humans during drug delivery. Their minuteness
makes them cross the cellular barriers in humans, animals and plants
and create more trouble to the host than solving its problem.

The International Standards Organisation (ISO) has now come out with a
technical report to help specialists conducting toxicological tests on
nanoparticles in a number of fields including medicine, pharmaceutical
research and industrial applications. There is danger of nanoparticles
escaping into the environment and polluting the atmosphere. Since they
are quite small, the existing equipment available with meteorological
and pollution control agencies cannot detect them.

“Nanotechnologies promise significant benefits, including enhancements
in medical diagnosis and treatment. They are more efficient energy
sources, lighter, stronger and cheaper materials. At the same time,
particular attention is being paid to the effects of specific
nanomaterials, particularly nanoparticles, on human health and the
environment,” says Roger Frost, head of communication services, ISO,
in a statement.

The ISO’s technical report, “nanotechnologies - guidance on
physicochemical characterisation of engineered nanoscale materials for
toxicological assessment”, will provide guidelines to health
scientists and other experts to understand, plan, identify, and
address relevant physicochemical characteristics of nano-objects
before conducting toxicological tests on them.

Nanotechnology is increasingly finding its use in a number of fields
including food, electronics, health, automobile, information
technology, sports, consumer products and medicine. It is already
applied in more than 1000 commercial products. In this backdrop,
concerns are being raised on the risk they pose to human health and
environment.

“We do not know if nanoparticles can outsmart the defence mechanism in
our body. They are very minute and our body’s defence mechanism may
not be able to fight them. Or nanoparticles may make the cellular
barriers ineffective, and thereby create major health complications,”
said environment activist V Satyanarayana.

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