Nanomaterials: Should we be concerned?

Day 134 – A nanomaterial is a very, very, very small material. A nanomaterial is less than 100 nanometers across. One nanometer is one-millionth of a millimeter or approximately 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Nano sized particles can be found in nature, but they can also be manufactured.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences lists where nanomaterials can be found.

  1. Nanotechnology can be used to design pharmaceuticals that can target specific organs or cells in the body such as cancer cells, and enhance the effectiveness of therapy.
  2. Nanomaterials can also be added to cement, cloth and other materials to make them stronger and yet lighter.
  3. Their size makes them extremely useful in electronics, and they can also be used in environmental remediation or clean-up to bind with and neutralize toxins. 

The problem with nanomaterials is that they are not regulated, so there are no rules as to how they can be used. There are also no rules stating that these materials need to be listed on any labels, notifying consumers. Even though they have proven to be helpful, there is not much information available about nanomaterials. What we do know is that nano-sized particles can enter the human body through inhalation and ingestion and through the skin. Fibrous nanomaterials made of carbon have been shown to induce inflammation in the lungs in ways that are similar to Asbestos.

One European study analyzed nanomaterials in an aquatic system. Similar to microplastics, nanomaterials entered the food chain and bioaccumulated, concentrating in the brains of fish.”Earth911

So, what can we do?

Earth911 suggests a couple ways you can address the safety of nanomaterials.

  1. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics maintains a list of ingredients that can indicate the presence of nanomaterials in personal products. Unfortunately, since there are no regulations about nanomaterials, there is no guarantee that these materials would be listed.
  2. Let your elected representatives know you support strengthening the FDA’s ability to regulate cosmetic safety and that you support the provisions of the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2019.

So, even though they may be small they could cause us harm. It will take the science community and governmental agencies to make sure that consumers stay safe. Unfortunately, for the consumers, it’s hard to avoid something that we can’t see or detect its presence.

Tomorrow, the importance of buying in bulk.

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