Preliminary studies suggest that some types of nanoparticles might pose a health hazard. That's bad news for nanotechnology.
By Philip E. Ross
The number of products fitting that description has now topped 200, according to a survey published in March by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies in Washington, DC. Among them are additives that catalyze combustion in diesel fuel, polymers used in vehicles, high-strength materials for tennis rackets and golf clubs, treated stain-resistant fabrics, and cosmetics. These products incorporate everything from buckyballs -- soccer ball-shaped carbon molecules named after Buckminster Fuller -- to less exotic materials such as nanoparticles of zinc oxide. But they all have one thing in common: their "nano" components have not undergone thorough safety tests.