Nanotechnology is permeating all aspects of government, industry and academia. Modern materials using nanotechnology, or nanomaterials, are very small particles of approximately 100 nanometers. A nanometer is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one billionth of a meter. A human hair can range from 10,000 to 50,000 nanometers. Nanomaterials exhibit unique behaviors and properties.

Particles reduced to this size take on new properties that add value to a range of products and applications. These new chemical properties, however, may also cause toxicity in a different manner than traditional particulates. Nanomaterials are widespread in the chemical industry and are already in consumer products such as sunscreens, food additives, clothing, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, sporting equipment, inks, tires, sprays, rubber products, catalysts, foam, adhesives, paints, and pigments.

Nanomaterials may be produced and transported in their raw form as a “powder” or incorporated into other products for the end-user or worker. Thus, all government departments and their external clients will be challenged with managing the health, safety and potential toxicity of these materials.

Nanotoxicology expertise is presently in demand, however few people are trained to evaluate and manage nanomaterials health and safety to meet their organization’s needs.

There is no easy solution to the potential toxicity associated with nanotechnology, History would indicate, however, that government and industry can take proactive measures to steward these materials through consumer markets. These proactive measures can help ensure that adverse human, environmental, and economic consequences from the past might be avoided.

Specifically, education and training on the effects of nanoparticles are crucial for industry to set a lifecycle plan for products. This education and training can assist governments and regulatory groups to make sound scientific decisions.

Furthermore, obtaining information on best management and documentation of these materials is crucial to protect all stakeholders. This information can help facilitate safe application of such sophisticated materials.

W. Shane Journeay is CEO of Toronto-based Nanotechnology Toxicology Consulting & Training (NTC&T). The company provides nanotoxicology expertise. Companies and other organizations hire NTC&T to educate and train manufacturing, operations, legal, R&D or HR managers. The training helps executives to become aware of real challenges facing nanoparticle producers, downstream manufacturers and consumers. Go here to learn more abut Journeay and the rest of the NTC&T executive team.

This video offers an introduction to nanotechnology.

 

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