Commission urges action over nanotechnology pollution

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corked-nanotubes.jpgHere’s something new for the tabloids to get angry about without understanding. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution has recommended “urgent regulatory action” over the microscopic materials present in sun creams, sports clothing and medicine.

The commission warns that although hundreds of consumer products are already in the marketplace that use nanoparticles, we have an ‘almost complete lack of knowledge’ regarding their long-term effects on human health and the environment. The report says many nanoparticles are so poorly understood that scientists don’t even know how to check their safety.

The report acknowledges that the substances are extremely useful, but says that there’s “a major gap between the pace at which new nanomaterials are being developed and the generation of environmental health and safety data”. Some scientists reckon that the generation of that data could take up to 20 years.

That seems like quite a long time to completely avoid using what’s been described as a “miracle” substance, especially as there’s been no evidence that they DO cause harm. Once studies start to show one way or another, the government should take action, but in the meantime, there’s no point banning a group of incredibly useful substances.

(via the Guardian)

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Duncan Geere

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