May 4, 2006
Industry urged to be open about nano testing methods
LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists urged industry on Thursday to
disclose how it conducts safety tests for products containing
The Royal Society, an academy of leading scientists, said a
new inventory showed that 200 consumer products such as
laptops, cosmetics and stain-resistant clothing use
"We are calling for industry to put the methods they use to
test the safety of products containing free nanoparticles, such
as some cosmetics, into the public domain because this is one
particular area where there is some uncertainty about safety,"
said Professor Ann Dowling of the Royal Society.
Nanotechnology, which involves manipulating materials and
devices on an ultra-small scale, offers tremendous potential.
Scientists believe the technology could lead to more powerful
computers, advanced medical techniques and longer lasting, more
A report by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of
Engineering in 2004 concluded that most nanotechnologies pose
no new risks but it said there were uncertainties about the
effects of free nanoparticles on health and the environment.
Free nanoparticles are not fixed or etched to a larger
object but move around. The Royal Society has expressed concern
that free nanoparticles could be inhaled, ingested or enter the
body through the skin and damage cells.
"Nanoparticles can behave quite differently from larger
materials of the same substance and it is these properties that
many manufacturers seek to take advantage of," Dowling said.
She added that more openness between industry and
scientists could lead to agreed testing methods.
Professor Anthony Seaton, an emeritus professor of
environment and occupational medicine at the University of
Aberdeen in Scotland, said there was no special reason to
suggest that products using nanotechnology would be dangerous.
But he added that industry should be much clearer about
what tests have been done.
"We really would like to see much more openness from people
who are putting nanomaterials into consumer products," he said
in an interview.
Seaton also called for more research into nanotechnology.
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a
U.S. based institution, has produced an inventory of more than
200 products which contain nanotechnology.
Dowling said the inventory highlights the fact that
research must be kept abreast with the rapidly advancing
"We also need to see international agreement and
cooperation to identify and carry out the research needed to
underpin regulation," she added.