Nanotechnology, which is fast emerging as the future science promising thousand things including cures for complicated diseases, could prove to be toxic for human beings, animals and environment.
Nanoparticles are extremely miniscule and this makes them potential agents of toxicity in humans during drug delivery. Their infinite smallness enables them to cross the cellular barriers in humans, animals and plants, and create trouble for the host rather than solving the problem.
Nanotechnology is being utilised in effective delivery of drugs to fight major health issues, including cancers. Keeping in view the health concerns, the International Standards Organisation has now come out with a technical report to help specialists conducting toxicological tests on nanoparticles in a number of fields including medicine, pharmaceutical research and industrial applications. There is a danger of nanoparticles escaping into the environment and polluting the atmosphere. Since they are so tiny, the existing equipment available with meteorological and pollution control agencies cannot detect them.
“Nanotechnologies promise significant benefits including enhancements in medical diagnosis and treatment. At the same time, particular attention is being paid to the effects of specific nanomaterials, on human health and environment,” said Roger Frost, head of communication services, ISO. The ISO report, Nano-technologies: Guidance on physicochemical characterisation of engineered nanoscale materials for toxicological assessment will provide guidelines to health scientists and other experts to understand, plan, identify, and address relevant physicochemical characteristics of nano-objects before conducting toxicological tests on them.
Concerns are being raised over the risk nanoparticles pose to human health and the environment. “We don’t know if nano-particles can outsmart the defence mechanism in our bodies. They are minute and our body’s defence mechanism may not be able to fight them. Nano-particles may make the cellular barriers ineffective, creating health complications,” said environment activist V. Satyanarayana.