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Safety of nanotechnology products is no small concern


WASHINGTON (Medill News Service) -- Though you cannot see them, you may be touching them or even wearing them right now. Products made using nanoparticles are already part of our lives.


But the growth of this new industry has some scientists worried that the minuscule particles may be carrying health and safety risks, particularly since many come from toxic materials.


Nanotechnology -- the science of reducing materials to tiny sizes with new properties -- already has been used in more than 600 products in the U.S. market, said Lloyd Tran, president of the International Association of Nanotechnology, a nonprofit trade organization based in San Jose, Calif.

Carbon nanotubes are used to make bike frames and tennis rackets lighter and sturdier, according to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, an initiative of the Woodrow Wilson International Center and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Nano-size particles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are used in many sunscreens to block UV radiation. Clothes treated with nanoengineered coatings are more stain-resistant. And computer chips using nanocomponents are a mainstay of electronics -- from computers to digital cameras.









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