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Medical News and Perspectives |

Committee Calls for Framework to Assess the Safety of Nanotechnology Materials

Mike Mitka
JAMA. 2012;307(11):1123-1124. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.289.
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Nanotechnology develops materials at the molecular level, creating structures with the potential to dramatically advance a variety of fields such as energy, electronics, and medicine. But such materials may also have the potential to harm the environment and humans. In the meantime, only small steps have been taken in developing risk assessment tools and manufacturing standards.

In this uncertain environment, a committee created by the National Research Council (NRC)—which is administered jointly by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine—issued a report January 25 providing an approach for developing the research strategies and scientific infrastructure needed to address potential health and environmental risks of nanomaterials (http://tinyurl.com /6w7fd4v). The report was requested by Congress and sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Innovations in nanotechnology—such as these arrays of nanowires, which can be used for biosensing and manipulating cells—are expected to bring advances in medicine and other fields. But experts say that risk assessment tools and manufacturing standards should be developed to protect human health and the environment.

(Photo credit: Z.L. Wang, PhD/National Cancer Institute)



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