The Washington Post recently published the article "Safety Studies on Nanoparticles Lag Behind Technology." The article focuses on the apparent time lag between the use of certain nanoscale materials in consumer products and the publication of research regarding the potential EHS implications of possible human and environmental exposure to same.
The article takes aim at nanoscale silver’s possible harmful effects on wasterwater treatment facilities, fish and algae in waterways, and the use of sewage sludge containing nanoscale silver as fertilizer. Also receiving attention are the use of nanoscale metal oxides in sunscreens and the use of nanoscale iron particles in ground water remediation.
While the article draws no conclusions and advocates paying closer attention to these issues, it could have benefited from at least a quick look at some of the most recent studies in some of these areas. For example, researchers at Purdue University — which was interviewed for the article — recently published a study assuaging some of the initial fears surrounding the potential impact of fullerenes on anaerobic waste-water treatment sludge. Readers would no doubt be interested.
Regarding the time lag between nano-products and data, we are publishing an article in the next edition of Risk Analysis (a Journal of the Society for Risk Analysis) focusing on this issue. We will be sure and post a link to the article here when it hits the press: "Nano Risk Governance: Current Developments and Future Perspectives," Igor Linkov, F. Kyle Satterstrom, John C. Monica, Jr., Steffen Foss Hansen, and Thomas A. Davis.