2009 Archives

Emerging field of nanotechnology has pitfalls, some say


The following appeared in the November 28, 2009, edition of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Eva Oberdorster, a lecturer and environmental toxicologist in the Department of Biological Sciences in SMU's Dedman College, provided expertise for this story.

November 30, 2009


The rush into nanotechnology worries some ethicists and environmentalists.

Three properties of nanoparticles — their unpredictable effects, their size and their ability to go anywhere in the body — "ought to make us more than pause before we think of introducing them into our environment and, particularly, into our food or our food containers," Wade Robison, an ethics professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, wrote in a paper.

". . .  Unfortunately it is too late for that," he wrote. "Over 100 food and food-related products now contain nanoparticles."

Southern Methodist University researcher Eva Oberdorster, an environmental toxicologist, found that nanoparticles of carbon triggered reactions that affected the brains of fish after just 48 hours. A concurrent test showed that the particles also reduced the ability of water fleas, a link in the aquatic food chain, to reproduce.

Some researchers hope they can identify and possibly solve potential problems before the science takes off further.

Read the full story.

# # #



Find an Expert