Home / What is Nano? / And the downside?

New safety and ethical issues

Safety concerns

Because it’s quite a new technology there are lots of uncertainties about the safety of some nanomaterials when they are in contact with humans, animals and the environment. Because they act so differently from their well known forms, their effects may be different too - or not!

Some people are concerned that nano is being used in products without the appropriate safety testing being done and that not enough time and money is being spent to find out what the problems might be.

Others feel these products shouldn’t be on the market at all yet because they don’t have enough information to be sure they are safe enough.

Governments, scientists and companies are working out what testing is needed in what areas and increasing their spending in this area, but some applications of nano are quite new and will require new tests and new tools to find out what we need to know.

Go to the Safety section or to individual Product areas to find out more.

Social and ethical issues

But not everyone is keen on everything nano could do. Some think that nanotechnologies will be used where less technological solutions would be better and some that its use will marginalise those countries who can’t afford it, while others are concerned as to where such advances may take us as human beings and as a society. (Go to the Social and Ethical section for more.)

Quite a bit of work is going on to ensure the public has an influence on discussions and some research about nano and the impact it might have on us and our society and this website is one of those projects. (See the Nano debate page for more.)

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