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Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Dec;114(12):1818-25.

Nanoparticles: health effects--pros and cons.

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1
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, West Virginia 26505, USA.

Abstract

With the advent of nanotechnology, the prospects for using engineered nanomaterials with diameters of < 100 nm in industrial applications, medical imaging, disease diagnoses, drug delivery, cancer treatment, gene therapy, and other areas have progressed rapidly. The potential for nanoparticles (NPs) in these areas is infinite, with novel new applications constantly being explored. The possible toxic health effects of these NPs associated with human exposure are unknown. Many fine particles generally considered "nuisance dusts" are likely to acquire unique surface properties when engineered to nanosize and may exhibit toxic biological effects. Consequently, the nuisance dust may be transported to distant sites and could induce adverse health effects. In addition the beneficial uses of NPs in drug delivery, cancer treatment, and gene therapy may cause unintentional human exposure. Because of our lack of knowledge about the health effects associated with NP exposure, we have an ethical duty to take precautionary measures regarding their use. In this review we highlight the possible toxic human health effects that can result from exposure to ultrafine particles (UFPs) generated by anthropogenic activities and their cardiopulmonary outcomes. The comparability of engineered NPs to UFPs suggests that the human health effects are likely to be similar. Therefore, it is prudent to elucidate their toxicologic effect to minimize occupational and environmental exposure. Highlighting the human health outcomes caused by UFPs is not intended to give a lesser importance to either the unprecedented technologic and industrial rewards of the nanotechnology or their beneficial human uses.

PMID:
17185269
PMCID:
PMC1764161
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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