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J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2007 Sep;7(9):3048-70.

Nanotechnology and health safety--toxicity and risk assessments of nanostructured materials on human health.

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West Ranch High School, 26255 W Valencia Blvd., Stevenson Ranch, California 91381, USA.


The field of nanotechnology has recently emerged as the most commercially viable technology of this century because of its wide-ranging applications in our daily lives. Man-made nanostructured materials such as fullerenes, nanoparticles, nanopowders, nanotubes, nanowires, nanorods, nanofibers, quantum dots, dendrimers, nanoclusters, nanocrystals, and nanocomposites are globally produced in large quantities due to their wide potential applications, e.g., in skincare and consumer products, healthcare, electronics, photonics, biotechnology, engineering products, pharmaceuticals, drug delivery, and agriculture. Human exposure to these nanostructured materials is inevitable, as they can enter the body through the lungs or other organs via food, drink, and medicine and affect different organs and tissues such as the brain, liver, kidney, heart, colon, spleen, bone, blood, etc., and may cause cytotoxic effects, e.g., deformation and inhibition of cell growth leading to various diseases in humans and animals. Since a very wide variety of nanostructured materials exits, their interactions with biological systems and toxicity largely depend upon their properties, such as size, concentration, solubility, chemical and biological properties, and stability. The toxicity of nanostructured materials could be reduced by chemical approaches such by surface treatment, functionalization, and composite formation. This review summarizes the sources of various nanostructured materials and their human exposure, biocompatibility in relation to potential toxicological effects, risk assessment, and safety evaluation on human and animal health as well as on the environment.

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