British Panel: Nanotechnology Grave Threat to Human Health

Nanomaterials are likely to kill people in the future just as asbestos did unless extensive safety checks are put in place, a British royal commission report said Wednesday.

The team of experts assessing the likely impacts of the emerging technologies are worried that when nanomaterials escape into the environment, they will damage people and wildlife but that it will be years before the effects are seen.

Past generations have brought into general usage materials such as asbestos, leaded gasoline, CFCs and cigarettes without adequately considering the potential damage, and the commission fears nanomaterials will prove similarly dangerous.

Only by introducing rigorous safety systems, including widespread monitoring and intensive research, can threats posed by nanomaterials be identified and countered, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution concluded.

Nanomaterials are already used in a variety of products on the market, including a range of clothes in Japan that have dispensed with dye because refracting nanomaterials provide the colors.

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