Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What are Nanoparticles?

Have you heard that word a lot lately--nanoparticle?  I have.  I've even seen it on products stating they contain "no nanos."  So what are they?  Kind of just what they sound like--ultra fine particles, as in tiny, and measured in nanometers.  They've been around forever, and can be natural or man made, and they can be very advanced.  There are all sorts of exciting applications for nanotecnology, but many are warning that it's moving too fast to ensure medical and environmental safety. 

All sorts of consumer goods are utilzing "nano technology" these days, including food, clothing, and body products.  There are a ton of  nanoproducts and more on the way.  Why is this of concern?  Because we're not sure they're safe and they are not regulated.  Like the problems we have with bodycare companies being able to put pretty much anything they want in their products, often concealing carcinogens with words like "fragrance," products with nanotechnology can be protected as proprietary and may go undisclosed.  So while there could be exciting and wonderful applications, there is a darker side.  Food for instance--they're using nano technology with our food--it's in M&Ms and Poptarts (not that I consider those food, but you get the idea).  And as we've seen with the GMOs, this can be a scary prospect. 

Nanoparticles are able to pass the blood brain barrier, they're small enough to find their way into the body, bypassing our defense systems and building up.  They've been shown in animal studies to interrupt fertility and create abnormal cells.  They're chaotic and there is just too much that's unknown.  Read a fascinating article on the subject HERE

Image Credit: earthfirstnews