Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Toaster Timebomb
Will no-one think of the children?

From the Torygraph:

Nanoparticles can be one millionth the size of a grain of sand. They are used to build innovative materials currently used in 600 products worldwide, from socks to sunscreens and even food supplements.

However, little is known about the effects the tiny particles could have if they were to escape into the human body.

Now a powerful committee of experts is calling for more research into the health implications.

A two-year study by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution warned there is the possibility to damage human health but emphasised that not enough research had been done.

Some nanoparticles display similar characteristics to asbestos.

Professor Sir John Lawton, chairman of the commission, warned that nanotechnology is in danger of becoming like genetically modified crops (GM), with science forging ahead without public understanding or trust.

"It's clearly very early in the development of these technologies, and at this stage we've found no evidence of nanomaterials causing harm to human health or the environment," he said.

"However, would we know if nanomaterials were causing harm? No we wouldn't. There's no evidence of harm, but a lot of that is because of a lack of evidence."


And laboratory research into carbon nanofibres used in clothing suggested they were "not too different" from asbestos fibres that cause lung cancer.

Sir John said he would not wear clothes made of nanofibres, although he would wear sunscreen that uses nanoparticles.

I wonder if I can be a journalist too? Hmm...

Used in around 30 million households, on products from bread to bagels, they can be a million times more useful than the entire British press corps. Manufacturers say these "toasters" are safe, but what if they were to escape?   There is no evidence that they are dangerous, but according to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, that may only be because very little research has been done into the subject. 
"Would we know if toasters were causing harm? No we wouldn't," said the commission's chair, Sir John Lawton. Happily, Sir John Lawton has agreed to chair another commission: this, too, will fail to establish if toasters are causing harm, but it will pay off the remainder of his mortgage. After all, laboratory research into toasters revealed they were "not too different" to assault rifles. 

1 comment:

Hank Roberts said...

Getting it right, getting it evaluated, and then not cutting corners when ramping up production: priceless.