7
Jan
2005

Mega fear over something nano

Nanotechnology is happening now, and it has some dangers

If you believe the hype, the nanotechnology revolution will deliver a future of unprecedented material abundance for everyone, limitless energy, ecological sustainability, improved human health and performance, and smarter, cheaper and more efficient materials and products.

But there is another nanotechnological future that we are beginning to hear more about. This is one of toxic nanoparticle pollution, powerful new military equipment and weapons, ubiquitous surveillance devices, widening global inequities and the further concentration of corporate ownership and control across all industrial sectors. Products containing nanoparticles have already been commercialised, including sunscreens, cosmetics, car parts and silicon chips, and in the future we can expect them to also be used in food and pharmaceutical products. Given their potentially greater reactivity and toxicity, the release and accumulation of these nanoparticles in the environment also raises concerns for their impacts on other living organisms and ecological processes.

The release of nanorobots and nano-engineered organisms in the more distant future may create even more frightful scenarios. I'd suggest we pencil the term "nanopollution" into our ecological lexicons now, and let the full implications of what that means sink in later. Another concern is the development of a new range of ultra-small and smart surveillance technologies that can be used to monitor every sphere of our social and working lives.

Astonishingly - or perhaps not - very little testing of any kind has been done on the nanoparticles that have already been commercialised, and there are no regulations anywhere in the world dealing specifically with nanotechnology and nanoscale materials and products per se.

//www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/12/28/1103996550425.html


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