Nanotechnology Safety and Security: Nanoparticles and Their Impact on the World

Nanotechnology Safety and Security: Nanoparticles and Their Impact on the World

Janette Alba (University of Guanajuato, Mexico), Petra Roupcova (VSB – Technical University of Ostrava, Czech Republic) and Karel Klouda (Occupational Safety Research Institute, Czech Republic)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 32
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3059-7.ch012

Abstract

Because of their unique characteristics, research and development of new nanomaterials is one of the major disciplines of the twenty-first century, and examining their special properties, especially toxicity, is therefore necessary. As well as their benefits (technological improvements, specific material properties, improved resistance to natural effects), new materials also bring new risks requiring assessment in terms of occupational health and safety and their abuse as potential biological carriers or other materials. The study presents general information about nanoparticles and their distribution and properties in relation to entering aquatic, soil, and atmospheric environments. The study describes and cites examples of measurements conducted on the exposure of different nanomaterials to the work environment. Risk assessments of nanomaterials according to the available methodologies, measures to protect against nanoparticles, and importantly, the abuse of nanoparticles as a potential threat to the CZ population are also described.
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Introduction

There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom, was a notion expressed on the subject by American physicist Richard Feynman in 1959 in a lecture given at the annual meeting of the American Society of Physicists, although the future phenomenon of the scientific field had not yet been named (Klouda, Frišhansová, & Senčík, 2016). The European Commission Regulation 2011/696/EU defines nanomaterials (NMs) as follows: “Nanomaterial means a natural material, by-product or material produced containing particles in an unbound state or as an aggregate or agglomerate in which 50% or more of the particle size distribution in one or more external dimensions is in the size range of 1–100 nm” (Larena, 2017). Though primarily concerned with developing nano-sized materials (NMs), nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary field that examines the properties of NMs and involves classic disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biochemistry, electronics and quantum mechanics (Figure 1). NMs behave specifically as a result of the different physicochemical properties in substances that are not the same on the surfaces of the solids as the material inside. After reducing the components of the material to below the magical limit of 100 nm, the physicochemical properties of its surfaces dominate, and the particle begins to behave as if it were only its surface. For example, the material increases in chemical reactivity, which may result in a change in its toxicity (Vampati & Uyar, 2014). Nanoparticles can penetrate directly into a cell nucleus and interact directly with DNA molecules or proteins, and activated reactions leading to apoptosis (programmed cell death) may also occur (Cagno et al., 2018; Huang et. el, 2018).

Figure 1.

Nanoparticle applications

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According to their origin, nanoparticles (NPs) may be categorized as follows (Klouda, Frišhansová, & Senčík, 2016):

  • Natural: E.g., volcanic fumes, pollen, forest fires.

  • Anthropogenic: For industrial production (joining materials for metal, wood, stone processing).

  • Synthetically Produced: Laboratory-prepared materials such as carbon NMs (graphene), metal nanoparticles (TiO2, ZnO, Al2O3), pigments).

According to toxicity, NPs may be categorized as follows (Filipová, Kukutschová, & Mašláň, 2012; Huang et al., 2018):

  • Primary: Targeted, synthesized engineered nanomaterials (ENMs).

  • Secondary: Particles produced during material degradation in a mechanical or thermal process.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Toxicity: is a property of chemical substances or compounds that causes poisoning of persons or animals that have ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Nanotechnology: An interdisciplinary field of science that studies, creates and uses technologies in the nanometer scale.

Safety: A condition in which the hazard is at an acceptable level.

Risk Assessment: is a term used to describe the overall process or method where you: Identify hazards and risk factors that have the potential to cause harm (hazard identification). Analyze and evaluate the risk associated with that hazard (risk analysis, and risk evaluation).

Nanomaterials: A natural material, by-product or material produced containing particles in an unbound state or as an aggregate or agglomerate in which 50% or more of the particle size distribution in one or more external dimensions is in the size range of 1–100 nm.

Risk: can be defined as a function of probability and magnitude of losses.

The Precautionary Principle: The role of the principle is to guarantee a high level of environmental protection through preventive decisions in the case of hazards.

Security: A situation where threats to an object and its interests are effectively reduced, and the object is effectively equipped and willing to cooperate to reduce existing and potential threats.

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