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Nanotechnology May Have Toxic Consequences

I am a big fan of tech advancements and I believe nanotechnology will change health care more than the human genome project. However, there maybe some serious side effects that accompany it. Researchers have found that a type of buckyball--a carbon nanoparticle that shows promise for electronic, commercial and pharmaceutical uses can cause significant brain damage in fish.

At modest concentrations in aquarium water, the minuscule particles--which are made of carbon atoms and are less than one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair--triggered damaging biochemical reactions in the brains of fish. They also wiped out entire populations of "water fleas," tiny animals that fill an ecologically crucial niche near the bottom of the aquatic food chain. To date, there have been no human studies of the health effect of buckyballs or other manufactured nanoparticles. A few animal studies have shown that nano-sized particles are capable of moving into the brain after being inhaled, but the current study is believed to be the first to show that the particles can actually cause damage to the brain.

Washington Post March 29, 2004

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