RESOURCES: Gauging Nanotech Risks

Science  02 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5740, pp. 1467b
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5740.1467b

From stain-resistant pants that repel liquids with tiny bristles to tennis rackets reinforced with carbon nanotubes, more products that rely on nanotechnology are hitting the market. But investigation of possible hazards from nanomaterials has lagged (Science, 1 July 2005, p. 36). To assess the state of the research, visit this new database of nanotech's risks. A joint project of the International Council on Nanotechnology and Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) in Houston, Texas, the site compiles abstracts for hundreds of nanoparticle-related environmental health and safety studies dating back to 1962. For example, you can locate recent papers on the possible harm to cells from quantum dots, minute semiconductor crystals deployed to pinpoint cancer, and track molecular movements. “The real value added here is that the research is being interpreted [and catalogued] by people who understand nanoparticles,” says Kevin Ausman, co-executive director of CBEN. Targeted initially at scientists, the database will eventually include summaries for the general public and the media.

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