Understanding Nanotechnology Safety


Click to EnlargePete Singer

From carbon nanotubes to graphene to silicon nanowires, nanotechnology has tremendous potential to provide the next critical advance in semiconductor technology. But what do we really know about related environmental, safety and health issues?

Despite the massive amount of money that supports nanotechnology research and development, little research has been done on potential implications. Foreign bodies below a certain size can enter, mainly through ingestion or respiration, animal organisms and travel rather freely through their tissues. They can either negotiate the gastro-intestinal wall or the pulmonary alveoli and be carried by the blood or the lymph, or settle in a tissue during their migratory travel. If those bodies are chemically inert and not biodegradable, they induce a reaction through which the organism defends itself against that form of invasion. That reaction, whatever it is, can either pass unnoticed or be of clinical irrelevance.

To better understand these issue, we have organized a special 2 hour on-line seminar, to be held May 27th at 12:00 Central. It is designed to educate you on the real dangers of nanotechnology, provide insight into nanotoxicity and nanopathology, and provide a strategy on how to protect yourself and your workers from potentially harmful materials. Go to our main portal site to sign-up:

Here's a line-up of the presenters:

Mark Bünger is a Research Director at Lux Research, with 18 years of business strategy experience as a management consultant and technology analyst. Prior to joining Lux Research in 2005, he worked at Forrester Research, LB International, SoftCoin, and Accenture in the U.S. and Europe. He has written two textbook chapters on nanotechnology and is a frequent speaker with recent presentations to the European Commission, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Institute of Physics, and other government, academic, and industrial groups.

Walt Trybula, Ph.D., MBA, IEEE Fellow & SPIE Fellow, is also Director of the Trybula Foundation, Inc. Dr. Trybula, a technology futurist, focuses on emerging trends and applications in nanotechnology, mesomaterials, MEMS/NEMS, and semiconductors with an emphasis on feasibility evaluation and profitable business insertion. Most recent activities involve NANO-SAFETY, nanotechnology safety, and nanomaterials. NANO-SAFETY is the systematic approach to potential issues and solutions in nanotechnology applications. His efforts in May 2010 include this webcast, a co-presentation on the lateral diffusion of nanotechnology education at the NAWDP annual conference, and a presentation on safely handling nanomaterials at the Bay Area Nanotechnology Council Symposium. He is an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer and previously was a Senior Fellow at SEMATECH, the semiconductor research consortium.

Dr. Kristen Kulinowski is a Faculty Fellow in the Department of Chemistry at Rice University and Director for External Affairs for the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN). She currently serves as the Director of the International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON), an international, multi-stakeholder organization whose mission is to develop and communicate information regarding potential environmental and health risks of nanotechnology thereby fostering risk reduction while maximizing societal benefit.

As an invited expert to the U.S. Delegation to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development's Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials, Nina Horne is coordinating the acceleration of nanorisk assessment among scientists in 27 nations. Nina is the lead author of multiple advisory papers to the U.S. delegation to International Standard Organization (ISO) on nanolabeling, and an informal consultant to multiple federal agencies, and serves on multiple nanotechnology advisory groups in the U.S., California, and the EU. 

Dr. Antonietta M. Gatti is the coordinator of the Italian Institute of Technology's Project of Nanoecotoxicology, called INESE. She is a selected expert of the FAO/WHO for the safety in nanotechnological food, and a Member of the NANOTOX Cluster of the European Commission. She is also the author of a book titled "Nanopathology: the health impact of nanoparticles," and on the Editorial Board of Journal of Biomaterials Applications and a member of the CPCM of the Italian Ministry of Defense. She also founded a laboratory called Nanodiagnostics for the evaluation of the pathological tissues of patients. She is presently at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy.

The semiconductor industry has long taken pride in an excellent safety record, despite the extensive use of a variety of materials that are toxic, combustible, corrosive, pyrophoric, carcinogenic and just plain nasty. I'm sure any kind of danger posed by nanotechnology will be met with equal success – but the first step is to know exactly what we're dealing with.

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