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Occup Environ Med 61:727-728 doi:10.1136/oem.2004.013243
  • Editorial

Nanotoxicology

  1. K Donaldson1,
  2. V Stone2,
  3. C L Tran3,
  4. W Kreyling4,
  5. P J A Borm5
  1. 1ELEGI Colt Laboratory, Wilkie Building, University of Edinburgh, Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH9 8AG, UK
  2. 2School of Life Sciences, Napier University, 10 Colinton Rd, Edinburgh EH10 5DT, UK
  3. 3Institute of Occupational Medicine, Research Park North, Edinburgh EH14 4AP, UK
  4. 4GSF National Research Center for Environment & Health, Institute for Inhalation Biology, Focus Network: Aerosols and Health, PO Box 1129, D-85758 Neuherberg/Munich, Germany
  5. 5Centre of Expertise in Life Sciences (CEL), Hogeschool Zuyd, PO Box 2606, 6401 DC Heerlen, Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor K Donaldson
 ELEGI Colt Laboratory, Wilkie Building, University of Edinburgh, Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH9 8AG, UK; ken.donaldsoned.ac.uk

    A new frontier in particle toxicology relevant to both the workplace and general environment and to consumer safety

    The revolution in nanotechnology is set to bring advantages in areas of our lives as diverse as engineering, information technology, and diagnostics. Part of this will necessitate large scale production of nanoparticles with new formulations and surface properties to meet novel demands. Our current knowledge of the toxicology of nanoparticles and nanotubes is poor but suggests that nanoparticles may be able to have adverse effects at their portal of entry, for example, the lungs, but that some nanoparticles may also escape the normal defences and translocate from their portal of entry to have diverse effects in other target organs. We suggest that a discipline of nanotoxicology be built up to address the new potential threats that widespread use of new nanoparticles could bring in support of the growth of a safe and sustainable nanotechnology industry.

    THE NANOTECHNOLOGY REVOLUTION

    There has been a great deal of interest in the scientific and general community in “the nanotechnology revolution”. Nanotechnology can be defined as:

    “… the manipulation, precision placement, measurement, modelling, or manufacture of sub-100 nanometer scale matter …”1

    This manipulation of matter at the nanoscale will have diverse effects in manufacture, engineering, especially energy engineering, environmental technology, information technology, health and pharmaceuticals, etc. Currently there is production of a wide range of nanoparticles (NP) of different types and different properties which will be tested for their utility in various applications. It is envisaged that those found useful will be further developed into large scale manufacture. Any technology before introducing it to the marketplace and into the product chain needs careful evaluation with regard to its sustainability and risk perception. A number of studies have been conducted by US and EU nanotechnology expert groups as well as …