Nanoparticles destroy soil and the environment, study finds | 27Mai2011 19:50:03
Though some might argue that nanotechnology offers benefits not afforded by normal molecules, the environmental and human health consequences of this "breakthrough" technology appear dire, to say the least. New research published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials explains that nanoparticles damage beneficial soil bacteria and ultimately ruin plants' ability to uptake necessary nitrogen.
Researchers Niraj Kumar and Virginia Walker from Queen's University in Canada set out to investigate the effects of nanoparticles in the environment, comparing soil from the Arctic -- which they believed would be the least contaminated with nanoparticles -- to soil that was deliberately contaminated with various nanoparticles, including silver nanoparticles.
"We hadn't thought we would see much of an impact, but instead our results indicate that silver nanoparticles can be classified as highly toxic to microbial communities," the team wrote. "This is particularly concerning when you consider the vulnerability of the arctic ecosystem."
According to the team's analysis, uncontaminated soil contains beneficial microbes, some of which are necessary to help plants absorb nitrogen. But when nanoparticles enter the picture, these microbes are largely killed off. The end result is plants that lack nitrogen, and which thus lack the ability to grow properly and maintain necessary levels of vital nutrients.
The experiment, however, involved highly-concentrated applications of nanoparticles on soil samples for roughly six months. In actual environmental conditions, however, it is difficult to say whether or not all nanoparticles are harmful. Silver nanoparticles in particular, which can be found in colloidal silver, offer helpful benefits in naturally mitigating disease (http://www.naturalnews.com/colloida...).
All sorts of nanoparticles are now added to a variety of industrial and consumer products, including in food packaging, clothing, electronic devices, sunscreen, batteries, cookware, and even in some types of food. And the real problem is that many of these nanoparticles have never been properly safety tested, and are thus a giant experiment in environmental and human health
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April 20, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
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The Dangers of Nanoparticles
Researchers in Finland and the US studied how certain nanoparticles interact with cells. Results indicated that nanoparticles may alter cell structure, causing the cells to die. Currently, nanoparticles are widely used in cosmetics, electronics, optical devices, medicine, and in food packaging materials. Nanoparticles may well be the asbestos of the twenty first century: a considerable threat to people`s health.
Nanotubes were discovered accidentally in 2000 at Heidelberg University, in Germany. By nature they seem to be a means of cell to cell communication. They exist for very short periods of time, then vanish as the cells no longer need them.
Nanoparticles (also known as nanopowders, nanoclusters, nanotubes, or nanocrystals) are microscopic. They measure less than 100 nanometers in at least one dimension. A nanometer equals one billionth of a meter – one millionth of a millimeter.
Although we are used to substances having particular properties, those properties often change as the particle size approaches the nano level. Theories suggest that the change in properties is related to the percentage of atoms at the surface of the substance. These different properties are fascinating to scientists.
Not all changes are beneficial. For instance, iron, at the nano level, switches its polarity using energy gained from room temperature heat, thus they are not useful for data storage, as had been hoped. Some nanoparticles' crystalline structure changes when they get wet. So numerous questions have been raised about their safety and suitability, especially for products destined for human contact
Scientists found ways to manufacture stable nano-sized particles in various forms. Given the transient nature of the body's own nanotubes, the very stability of the synthetic particles may pose a threat.
A great deal of research looks into finding useful purposes for man made nanoparticles. However, very little is known of their health effects, especially their down side. Only a tiny allotment of research into nanoparticles focuses on their risks to health and safety. While the use of nanoparticles in consumer products increases, follow-up procedures and legislation lag behind. The European Union chemicals directive REACH does not even touch upon nanomaterials.
November 26, 2008 by: Maryann Marshall
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