12.04.08

Nano-nightmare

Posted in Computers & Technology, Events, Life in general at 9:41 am by Marion

TECH THURSDAY

When it comes to my iPod nano I’d have it implanted into my arm if not for the bulge.

Anything else nano? Keep it as far away as possible.

For some time, nano particles have been some concern. These are the extremely small compounds that manufacturers and developers once touted as the next big thing … read: moneymaker.

Comes an article in today’s New York Times that brings the matter well, under the microscope.

Things created on a “nanoscale” are absorbed in ways we don’t fully understand. So while a human hair is say 50,000 – 100,000 nanometers in diameter, there are sunscreens offered today with nanoparticles of titanium dioxide as small as 15 nanometers.

Some people … including, say, me … believe these particles can penetrate our body’s own barriers … our skin, organ tissue and even our cell walls … to rack up unimaginable changes and harm.

The NYT article quotes our own Dr. Adnan Nasir, a doctor at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, who says,

“The smaller a particle, the further it can travel through tissue, along airways or in blood vessels,” said Nasir, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology. “Especially if the nanoparticles are indestructible and accumulate and are not metabolized, if you accumulate them in the organs, the organs could fail.”

Indeed, some doctors, scientists and consumer advocates are concerned that many industries are adopting nanotechnology ahead of studies that would establish whether regular ingestion, inhalation or dermal penetration of these particles constitute a health or environmental hazard. Personal care products are simply the lowest hanging fruit.

We still haven’t figured out the potential dangers of BHA, lead and phthalates in our personal care products … no one wants to bother testing lipstick for dangers when children are dying from melanin in their milk, and I don’t disagree with that choice.

Let’s face it: Companies want to make money and when they invest in new technology, it’s to do just that. Selling us on “nano particles” … eventually nano body glitters, nano mascara and probably nano fat burners … is not an endeavor intended to better humanity.

Remember, it’s our nefarious beauty industry that relies on the Draize eye test using rabbits … who don’t tear as well as humans … so why would we expect that cold-hearted industry to care too terribly much about nano dangers?

Now there are even some people who believe nano-sized particles become absorbed by the human body, leading to the strange condition known as Morgellans Disease.

It’s often true that I trend toward the old-fashioned, though once on board with new technology I love it … don’t even try to take my Vista 64-bit version away!!

But when we have commerce without morality, as Gandhi described it in his list of Seven Blunders of the World that Lead to Violence, we run great risks of harm, in ways we can’t even see, or imagine.

TOMORROW:
Figuratively Speaking

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