Even though it may seem that I am beginning to be obsessed with the evils of nanotechnology, I want to post about a story I read when I got back from work today. A story that concerned me. In fact, the more I read about nanoparticles and nanotechnology, the more I feel troubled. Things are just happening too quickly. We start with probably toxic nano-socks and stain-resistant nano-khakis and end up with nanoparticles being shot into tumours, which are then “cooked” with “harmless radio waves.” But are these waves really so harmless? And what about the nanoparticles travelling through us?
I went to read the story (the link was provided by a myeloma list member, by the way): http://tinyurl.com/4ldegs This page also provides a link to another page, which lists the potential dangers of nanotechnology: http://tinyurl.com/52xrge (Oh, and this story, that I learned about through a different list member/also friend, was featured on 60 Minutes on April 13th, see here: http://tinyurl.com/4buscb)
Let’s look at the first link…first. This type of cancer treatment is said to be noninvasive, and uses nontoxic radio waves combined with gold or carbon nanoparticles, which have a long history of medical use. A long history of medical use? Really? Let’s read on: Nanoparticles made of gold, carbon and other materials can move through the bloodstream and through cell walls, allowing for efficient drug delivery, or to act like a homing devices for research purposes.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I am not thrilled at the idea of any of these itsy bitsy particles travelling through my bloodstream. Hmmm.
Then, When the gold nanoparticles are inside the malignancy, a blast from a radio-frequency generator causes them to heat and cook the cancer cells. Blast, heat and cook? Am I the only one who finds this alarming?
The lead researcher thinks that human trials could begin within three years. The cancer treatment thus far has been tested only on animals (sigh!) and human cells. It apparently ignores healthy cells, but that depends on the type of cancer. There were also no “noticeable” side effects. Well, duuuh!, that’s because the side effects were…nano-effects!
The second link takes us to an article written in 2005 about the potential hazards of nanotechnology. A scary (to me) sentence depicts these particles as just atoms wide and small enough to easily penetrate cells in lungs, brains and other organs.
A lot of money is being invested in this technology (the U.S. federal government was spending about $1 billion/year on nanotechnology back in 2005, I tremble to think of what that amount is today), but how much is being invested in safety tests? A fraction, apparently.
The other day I read a Science Daily article on the dangers posed by nanotubes, and it just so happens that today’s article points out that these nanotubes have been found to be toxic to animal cells and that There are fears that exposure can cause breathing problems, as occurs with some other ultrafine particles, that nanoparticles could be inhaled through the nose, wreaking unknown havoc on brain cells, or that nanotubes placed on the skin could damage DNA. Aren’t we surrounded by enough human-created pollution? Why introduce more of it into our bodies…?
Not to speak about the possible, indeed probable damage to the environment.
But who cares about the environment? So what if this nanostuff gets into our water, into our food and, indeed, under our skin (via innocent-looking sunscreen; by the way, for a list of sunscreen products that contain or may contain nanogunk, go to http://tinyurl.com/3vz5rc, which is also the website from which I got the image on the left)?
After all, the goal of business is to make a profit, right?