Toxic potential of materials at the nanolevel

Author(s): Nel A, Xia T, Mädler L, Li N

Abstract

Nanomaterials are engineered structures with at least one dimension of 100 nanometers or less. These materials are increasingly being used for commercial purposes such as fillers, opacifiers, catalysts, semiconductors, cosmetics, microelectronics, and drug carriers. Materials in this size range may approach the length scale at which some specific physical or chemical interactions with their environment can occur. As a result, their properties differ substantially from those bulk materials of the same composition, allowing them to perform exceptional feats of conductivity, reactivity, and optical sensitivity. Possible undesirable results of these capabilities are harmful interactions with biological systems and the environment, with the potential to generate toxicity. The establishment of principles and test procedures to ensure safe manufacture and use of nanomaterials in the marketplace is urgently required and achievable.

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