Nanotoxicology for Safe and Sustainable Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the term given to those areas of science and engineering where the phenomena take place at nanoscale dimensions. Nanoparticles are particles with <100 nm in one dimension. They have different physical, chemical, electrical and optical properties than those that occur in bulk samples of the same material. Understanding these nanoscale properties and finding ways to engineer new nanomaterials will have a revolutionary impact, from more efficient energy generation and data storage to improved methods for diagnosing and treating diseases. Nanotechnology is poised to become a major factor in the world's economy and part of our everyday lives in the near future. Hundreds of tonnes of nanoparticles already enter the environment annually, but still very little is known of their interactions with biological systems. Recent studies indicate that some nanoparticles are not completely benign to biological and environmental targets. The challenge for toxicologists is to identify key factors that can be used to predict toxicity, permit targeted screening, and allow material scientists to generate new, safer nanoparticles with this structure-toxicity information in mind. The aim of this paper is to summarize some known facts about nanomaterials and discuss future perspectives, regulatory issues and tasks of the emerging branch of toxicology, that is, nanotoxicology.