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Chem Commun (Camb). 2011 Jul 7;47(25):7025-38. doi: 10.1039/c0cc05271j. Epub 2011 Apr 11.

Health impact and safety of engineered nanomaterials.

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Department of Chemistry, National University of Singapore (NUS), 3 Science Drive 3, 117543, Singapore.


Many engineered nanomaterials (NMs) are being synthesized and explored for potential use in consumer and medical products. Already, nanoparticles (NPs) of titanium dioxide (TiO(2)), zinc oxide (ZnO), silver (Ag) and other metals or their oxides are present in commercial products such as sunscreens, cosmetics, wound dressings, surgical tools, detergents, automotive paints and tires. More recent and advanced FDA-approved use of NMs includes quantum dots (QDs) in live cell imaging, zirconium oxides in bone replacement and prosthetic devices and nanocarriers in drug delivery. The benefits from nanotechnology are aplenty, comprising antimicrobial activities, scratch- and water-resistance, long-lasting shine, improved processor speeds and better display resolution, to name a few. While developers of these products often focus on the exciting beneficial aspects of their products, safety and toxicity issues are often not discussed in detail. Long-term effects such as chronic exposure and environmental pollution are even less documented. Along with widespread manufacture and use of NMs, concerns for occupational hazards, proper handling, disposal, storage, shipping and clean up are expected to rise. This review focus on the possible biological impact of engineered NPs, serving as a reminder that nanomaterials can become a double-edged sword if not properly handled.

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