, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 245-260
Date: 23 Aug 2012

Nanotechnology and Nanotoxicology

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Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter in dimensions <100nm. At this size, matter can take on different chemical and physical properties, giving the products characteristics useful to industry, medicine and technology. Government funding and private investors provide billions of research dollars for the development of new materials and applications. The potential utility of these technologies is such that they are expected be a trillion-dollar industry within the next 10 years.

However, the novel properties of nanoengineered materials lead to the potential for different toxicity compared with the bulk material. The field of nanotoxicology is still in its infancy, however, with very limited literature regarding potential health effects. Inhalational toxicity is to be expected, given the known effects of inhaled fine particulate matter. However, the degree to which most nanoparticles will aerosolise remains to be determined. It has been proposed that dermal exposure will be the most relevant route of exposure, but there is considerably less literature regarding dermal effects and absorption. Less defined still are the potential effects of nanoproducts on fetal development and the environment.