Saturday, June 11, 2011

food industry workers may exposure Nanotech ingredients to unknown health risks

The Nanotech still new after all, and Human's an enemy to what he's ignorant

According to Andrew Maynard, editorial author and chief science advisor to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, an estimated three million workers will produce about $2.6 trillion worth of nanotechnology manufactured foods a year by 2015. They also quoted other research that predicted nanotechnology would be worth $16.4 billion to the food industry by 2010. According to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnology's online database, there's over 300 nanotechnology products already on the market, including foods, food packaging and dietary supplements.

A study recently published by the British Occupational Hygiene Society suggests that workers who manufacture nanotech foods -- foods containing nanoparticles that are expected to behave in a specific manner -- may be exposed to unknown health risks.

Maynard also complained that, while companies spend upward of $1 billion yearly on nanotech research, they only spend about $11 million on safety studies.

"The presence of engineered nanomaterials in the workplace today poses as an immediate challenge to how occupational safety and health is managed," Maynard said. "So far, they have a variety of red flags that indicate some engineered nanomaterials might present a new or unusual health hazard."

Studies of rats have found that discrete, nanometer-diameter particles could crossing the animals' blood-brain barrier in to the brain itself. Until the effects on humans are known, Maynard suggested nanotechnology businesses initiate "control banding", which would involve making a nanomaterial "impact index" template to assess appropriate risk control guidelines. The index would measure the risk of individual products based on particle size, shape and activity, as well as the amount of material and dustiness.

"This is still very much at the conceptual stage," said Maynard. "But unconventional issues require unconventional solutions, and these in turn will need a serious investment in relevant nanotechnology risk research.

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