A6.4 Possible Problems with Nanotechnology

As with all new technologies, there are some concerns over the uses of nanoparticles.
Some concern arises over the fact that they are so small that they could be absorbed by living tissue and it is difficult to predict or understand the long term effects when they are breathed in or ingested. We already know there are dangers associated with solid particles like asbestos and coal that can do a lot of harm when absorbed into the human body.
The human immune system has no defence against these tiny particles.
Silver nanoparticles are used to kill bacteria, but they may also kill other cells or “useful” bacteria.
The strong catalytic properties of nanoparticles are useful – but they may speed up biochemical reactions, perhaps causing illness or death.
Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles are used in sunscreens. It is possible that they may reach cells and cause them to become cancerous. However, the current weight of evidence suggests that these remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer layer of the skin where they do no harm.