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Nano Particles--Giga Benefits, Giga Risks

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  • Stephen Unger
    Uses of materials in a form consisting of particles with at least one dimension less than 100 nanometers (a nanometer is a billionth of a meter) are
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 4, 2012
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      Uses of materials in a form consisting of particles with at least one
      dimension less than 100 nanometers (a nanometer is a billionth of a
      meter) are proliferating at a great rate. We are seeing this exciting
      new technology applied to increasing numbers of consumer products,
      industrial materials, and medical procedures. And it appears that this
      is just the beginning. This is the good news. The bad news is that the
      same properties that make nanoparticles so useful also make them
      potentially dangerous, both to humans and to the general
      environment. What is being done to protect us against us against such
      hazards?

      My effort to explain the situation is accessible at: http://www1.cs.columbia.edu/~unger/myBlog/endsandmeansblog.html

      Steve
      ............

      Stephen H. Unger
      Professor Emeritus
      Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
      Columbia University
      ............
    • WarrenS
      Micron size particles definitely can pose big risks, e.g. in air where they are a major cause of death, but you did not give any example where nanometer size
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 6, 2012
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        Micron size particles definitely can pose big risks, e.g. in air where they are a major
        cause of death, but you did not give any example
        where nanometer size particles cause health problems.

        Should we demand that every substance be tested for safety before use?

        The attitude now seems to be "no" except for foods and drugs.
        And even there, a substance in a different physical form (e.g. different sized particles)
        is I think not tested for safety versus form...
      • Stephen Unger
        ... One of my references is about such a case involving 7 people in China. See Rebecca Smith, Nanoparticles used in paint could kill, research suggests ,
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 7, 2012
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          On Fri, 6 Apr 2012, WarrenS wrote:

          > Micron size particles definitely can pose big risks, e.g. in air
          > where they are a major cause of death, but you did not give any
          > example where nanometer size particles cause health problems.

          One of my references is about such a case involving 7 people in
          China. See Rebecca Smith, "Nanoparticles used in paint could kill,
          research suggests", Telegraph (UK), Aug 19, 2009

          A key point made in my article is that very serious killers may
          operate over long periods of time affecting large numbers of people,
          but operating in a subtle manner that may not be immediately
          obvious. Examples I refer to are asbestos, lead, tobacco. It is likely
          that nanotechnology is in that category/

          > Should we demand that every substance be tested for safety before use?

          Yes. It is criminal to expose millions of people to substances that
          could seriously harm them without first testing them to the point that
          it becomes clear beyond reasonable doubt that they are safe. That point
          is discussed at some length in the article.

          > The attitude now seems to be "no" except for foods and drugs. And
          > even there, a substance in a different physical form (e.g. different
          > sized particles) is I think not tested for safety versus form...

          That's right. My contention is that regulation even of food and drugs
          is grossly inadequate and has been getting worse over the years. One
          good (and unfortunately rare) example of success (tho delayed overly
          long) in this area is lead. Since the production of leaded gasoline
          was stopped and leaded paint banned, there has been a very significant
          drop in the amount of lead found in our blood.

          Steve
        • John Lawrence
          While Europe exercises the precautionary principle (guilty until proven innocent)for new products, the US continues to place private profit above the welfare
          Message 4 of 4 , Apr 11, 2012
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            While Europe exercises the precautionary principle (guilty until proven innocent)for new products, the US continues to place private profit above the welfare of the average American. Technology in general and chemical engineering in particular have become huge hazards to human health. Unger didn't mention the DDT situation where it was sprayed all over the place until Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" blew the whistle. The perfect product from a corporation's point of view is one for which the hazardous effects aren't manifested or become apparent for 10 years or more so there is no direct connection between the product and the disease namely cancer.

            One has to go to great lengths in today's food market to avoid toxicity in the forms of pesticides, herbicides, hormones (bovine growth hormone), antibiotics, plastic bottles (BPA) etc etc. Most of the word's soy bean crop is composed of GMO soybeans which have been genetically modified to resist Monsanto's Roundup which is sprayed on the Roundup ready soybean fields. It kills every weed in its path EXCEPT the Roundup ready GMO soy bean plants. However, just because the plant itself survives this powerful herbicide is not reassuring because, if the GMO aspect is not harmful to human health in itself, then the possibility of the absorption of Roundup in the plant itself, which has been slathered with Roundup, should give pause to anyone who consumes it. The only preventative measure is to only consume organic soy products. The same can be said for fruits and vegetables especially grapes, apples and berries. As more people consume them in large quantities because of their supposed health effects, one needs to take into account that they have been sprayed with herbicides and pesticides. The only safe course is to consume organic fruits and vegetables and drink organic wine. Winos have been found to suffer from certain cancers in greater proportion than the average population because of the herbicides and pesticides sprayed on grape plants.

            Ted Kaczynski, the Unibomber, although I don't agree with his method for publicizing his Manifesto, essentially had it right in his diatribe against technology, especially the chemical industry. Now we have another technology capable of human harm as Unger has brought to out attention. When will human beings stop with this all out obsession with making profits from new technology instead of emphasizing living harmonoiusly with nature.

            --- In RangeVoting@yahoogroups.com, Stephen Unger <unger@...> wrote:
            >
            > Uses of materials in a form consisting of particles with at least one
            > dimension less than 100 nanometers (a nanometer is a billionth of a
            > meter) are proliferating at a great rate. We are seeing this exciting
            > new technology applied to increasing numbers of consumer products,
            > industrial materials, and medical procedures. And it appears that this
            > is just the beginning. This is the good news. The bad news is that the
            > same properties that make nanoparticles so useful also make them
            > potentially dangerous, both to humans and to the general
            > environment. What is being done to protect us against us against such
            > hazards?
            >
            > My effort to explain the situation is accessible at: http://www1.cs.columbia.edu/~unger/myBlog/endsandmeansblog.html
            >
            > Steve
            > ............
            >
            > Stephen H. Unger
            > Professor Emeritus
            > Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
            > Columbia University
            > ............
            >
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