SHOULD YOU BE AFRAID when you pick up your make-up bag or turn on the PC? Well perhaps you should as the National Research Council (NRC) has found a serious flaw in the government's handling of nanomaterials policy.
At present there are many products on the market that include nanomaterials and, although not a lot is known about them, this has not yet caused enough concern for anything to be done about it.
Yet the worry that the NRC has is that during the next decade or so, nanotechnology is going to creep its way into our food and our medicines. If these materials are dangerous, this poses a huge risk.
The report released by the NRC on Wednesday highlights this concern alongside the fact that there is simply not enough funding, leadership or research going into the production and distribution of these materials.
Although some thinking has gone into this subject, it is not yet certain whether these materials pose health or environmental risks.
David Eaton, chairman of the NRC committee said, "Current plan catalogs nano-risk research across several federal agencies, but it does not present an overarching research strategy needed to gain public acceptance and realise the promise of nanotechnology."
The other obvious risk is that, with the increasing amount of nanotechnology being used, more and more workers are going to be exposed to such materials. Recent figures from the EPA suggest that at present there are 20,000 researchers working in nanotechnology.
The NRC's main point in the report is that more research needs to be done on how these materials affect the human body as well as the environment, with more information and input needed from industries and companies developing and using nanotechnology.
No one group is responsible for overseeing the production and distribution of nanomaterials, which of course poses a risk. The NRC wants to change this as the first step against the proliferation and distribution of possibly unsafe substances that are not yet reasonably well enough understoond. µ