"The scientists note that, once ingested, nanoparticles can pass into the blood and lymph system, circulate through the body and reach potentially sensitive sites such as the spleen, brain, liver, and heart. Nanosilver’s presence in clothing and cosmetics provides another potential route of exposure. A recent study revealed that athletic wear impregnated with nanosilver can cause the substance to seep into a person’s skin through one’s sweat. A 2009 study showed that washing these types of nanosilver-impregnated textiles resulted in an unknown spread of the substance into the environment. Due to its small size, nanosilver is often not filtered out by conventional wastewater treatment plants. After entering the environment, past studies show nanosilver can have devastating impacts on wildlife, including deformities in fish and immune suppression in earthworms.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been criticized by scientists and consumer and environmental groups for its role in regulating emerging nanotechnology. A 2013 National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report provided a scathing account of EPA’s “conditional” registration of nanosilver, which the agency approved under the assumption that its use would reduce the overall burden of conventional silver in the environment. However, despite its novel antibacterial properties, the material did not undergo a full range of required tests, and there is no labeling system that would alert consumers to the presence of this largely untested substance in consumer products. A 2012 industry newsletter placed EPA’s delay over nanotechnology regulation on White House officials in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Richard Denison, PhD, senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund explained, “My understanding is that there is a view in some circles in the White House that they do not want to stigmatize nanomaterials nor stifle the technology even by requiring the reporting of information that EPA needs to make judgments as to whether there are risks.”"
"Based on the likelihood of exposure, it appears that in general most attention should be paid to the agrifood, chemistry/materials, textiles and health sectors; and less to the information and communication technology (ICT), security and energy sectors. Toxicity and exposure are both important; however, the EHS impact of nanomaterials is always dependent on their particular use."
The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety has published its opinions on the risks posed by nano titanium dioxide, and an addendum to its previous opinion on nano zinc oxide used as UV filters in cosmetic products.
Scientists are only just beginning to understand the potential risks associated with releasing nanomaterials into the environment. These include potentially harmful effects on soil and water organisms.
"A new study suggests there’s more to nanoparticle toxicology than cell life and death. Although immune cells treated with iron oxide particles appeared healthy in standard toxicology tests, they struggled to perform one of their key jobs: engulfing pathogenic bacteria (ACS Nano 2013, DOI: 10.1021/nn402145t). The researchers wonder if exposure to significant levels of the nanoparticles could lead to dysfunction in people’s immune systems."
A lot of workout clothing advertised as "antibacterial" or "anti-odor" contains microscopic particles, or nanoparticles, of silver. ... Sounds great, right? Except that silver nanoparticles aren't bound to that antibacterial clothing, and the teeny particles slough off every time you wash your sweaty clothes. And, according to a new study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, they get absorbed by your skin when you sweat, exposing you to untested, and potentially unhealthy, levels of this metal.
Ingestion of commonly encountered nanoparticles at typical environmental levels is unlikely to cause overt toxicity, according to US researchers. Nevertheless there is insufficient evidence to determine whether chronic exposures could lead to subtle alterations in intestinal immune function, protein profiles, or microbial balance.
Environmental scientists shows that air-pollution-removal technology used in "self-cleaning" paints and building surfaces may actually cause more problems than they solve. The study finds that titanium dioxide coatings, seen as promising for their role in breaking down airborne pollutants on contact, are likely in real-world conditions to convert abundant ammonia to nitrogen oxide, the key precursor of harmful ozone pollution.
'[W]hile many critics say they are enthusiastic about some of those positive applications, they remain adamant that safety research and regulation must catch up and keep up with the technology’s proliferation. “I think we need to take a precautionary approach because we’ve learned the hard way over and over and over again,” says Hansen. “You’d think we would learn.”"
The original Lautenberg proposal would have allowed EPA to regulate novel nanomaterials more rigorously. It contained language that would have updated the definition of “chemical substance” to reflect the new science of nanotechnology, which exploits changes in size and shape of materials to manipulate their behavior, but also may present new health risks.
The Lautenberg-Vitter bill would maintain the status quo. It would give EPA no more power to oversee nanotechnology, despite the rapid development of these materials. That’s a serious gap. As a chemist specializing in nanotechnology, I know that certain nanomaterials can present greater hazards to health and the environment than ordinary ones. The EPA needs to have the ability to distinguish among different material forms to ensure that both new and existing nanomaterials are safe for us all."
"The businesses and trade groups lobbying against proposed action on nanotechnology by the EPA, the Food and Drug Administration and other federal agencies include the American Chemistry Council and its nanotechnology business panel. Among the panel’s members are Procter & Gamble, BASF Corp., Dow Chemical Co., DuPont, Lockheed Martin Corp. and 3M, all of which use nanomaterial in making at least some of their products or processes. Other key lobbying groups are the NanoBusiness Commercialization Association and the Nanotechnology Industries Association. Nanotechnology practices have sprung up in law and lobby firms, among them Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Foley & Lardner LLP and Bergeson & Campbell PC. The combined amount of money spent on lobbying by these firms last year was more than $200 million, and their campaign contributions to federal candidates during the 2011-2012 election cycle exceeded $120 million.
One of the best-known scientist-lobbyists, Rosalind Volpe, made a name for herself defending another industry with a public health and environmental public relations problem: lead. Volpe runs the Silver Nanotechnology Working Group and remains a consultant to the International Lead Zinc Research Organization.
“She knows how to lobby for difficult chemicals,” said Jaydee Hanson, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, which studies the impact of nanotechnology on food. “She works for five little companies, but they’ve managed to hold up regulations over at the OMB,” a reference to the White House Office of Management and Budget."
"Because of the dynamic, size and density-dependent nature of ENP delivery to cells in vitro, the biological consequences of agglomeration are not discernible from static measures of exposure concentration (μg/ml) alone, highlighting the central importance of integrated physical characterisation and quantitative dosimetry for in vitro studies. The combined experimental and computational approach provides a quantitative framework for evaluating relationships between the biocompatibility of nanoparticles and their physical and chemical characteristics."
"Although a majority of aggregated or stable NPs [nanoparticles] were removed by simulated conventional and advanced treatment, NP metals were detectable in finished water. As environmental NP concentrations increase, we need to consider NPs as emerging drinking water contaminants, and determine appropriate drinking water treatment processes to fully remove NPs in an effort to reduce their potential harmful health outcomes."
"Our findings suggest that particles < 0.5 µm in diameter may be most responsible for adverse health effects of particulate air pollution, and that adverse health effects may increase with decreasing particle size."
A collaboration of biologists, engineers, and material scientists at Brown University has found that jagged edges of graphene can easily pierce cell membranes, allowing graphene to enter the cell and disrupt normal function.
"Researchers have found that commercially available desktop 3D printers could emit potentially harmful particles into indoor air, which could lead to adverse health conditions.
The researchers, who have published their work in the journal Atmospheric Environment, say inhaling a high amount of these particles has been associated with adverse health conditions, such as asthma and cardiorespiratory illnesses, and studies have linked elevated ultrafine particle (UFP) concentrations with increased hospital admissions for stroke."
"NRDC lawyer Catherine Rahm ... begged to differ with the [EPA's] methods. In the January hearing, she argued that the agency record shows infants are more likely than any other subset of children to chew on fabrics that could contain the pesticide, and that if the agency were to recalculate its risk assessment based on the body weight of a 1-year-old, nanosilver concentrations in HeiQ’s product could result in potentially harmful exposures."
"For some lines of clothing, nanoparticles are the new fashion accessory. Manufacturers add the materials to clothing to prevent stinky molds from growing on sweaty socks or to protect people from the sun’s ultraviolet light. However, some toxicologists worry that the intimate contact between the clothing and skin may expose people to nanoparticles. In a new study, researchers measured how much of the materials leach off clothing into simulated sweat. (Environ. Sci. Tech. 2013, DOI: 10.1021/es304329w). They found that some pieces of clothing released significant levels of silver nanoparticles."
"A new study published in the July 2013 issue of Biomaterials suggests that ingestion of silica nanoparticles which are commonly used in processed foods and dietary supplements can induce cardiovascular disease."