How To Approach The Escalating Utilization And Commercialization Of Nanoscale Materials

1204 words - 5 pages

The use of nanotechnology has become wide spread in the market place and, has found a place on the forefront of the technology world as the up and coming thing. Every day new technologies are being discovered, making things faster, bigger, stronger, smaller, and better. In this case, nanotechnology is making things smaller, on the molecular scale. A substance is considered a nanomaterial if it ranges between 1 to 100 nanometers. Therefore, nanotechnology is the engineering and manipulation of nanomaterial. Due to the size, the mass to surface area ratio results in the particles ability to be absorbed into major organs of the human body system. This fact could lead to monumental breakthroughs in the medical applications of nanoparticles like treating illnesses; however, nanotechnology is not without risks and is a largely unregulated industry. Many critics of the emerging nanotechnology say that the industry has many unregulated issues that need to be addressed. For instance, whether or not nanomaterial can be classified as a new substance or can be paired with an existing substance. In addition, the possible adverse health effects of manufacturing and using materials at the nanoscale. Finally, the knowledge of how safe nanomaterials are and their adverse effects are unknown and there is a lack of research in the nanotechnology field. These concerns are important in determining how to approach the escalating utilization and commercialization of nanoscale materials, and are the reason why regulations for materials specifically on the nanoscale are needed to keep people and the environment safe.
The debate of whether or not nanomaterials can be considered a new substance is one that is not clear with the current standards. The chemistry of a nanoparticle is similar or almost the same as its larger counterpart, but the size of the material completely changes the physical properties of the material and the way it behaves to the surrounding environment. This idea was brought to court in the form of a lawsuit against US Food and Drug Administration in 2011. The plaintiffs argued that nanomaterials are patented and display novel characteristics which would therefore classify them as a new substance and require regulations and safety testing [1].This is the first lawsuit in concerns to health and safety to the environment in the nanotechnology era and brings to the forefront a controversial idea. If a nanomaterial is recognized as a patent capable product, then that would mean it is considered new and unique; therefore, old regulations need to be checked to see if they can provided a capable set of standards. These include regulations set up by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that set standards of safety for protecting workers. Hence, the adverse health effects of nanomaterial use and production come into play.

As mentioned before, the small size of nanomaterials results in a high mass to surface area ratio, creating the...

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