By Cameron Chai
Kathleen Eggleson, a researcher from the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Nano Science and Technology (NDnano), has discussed about an emerging ethics and safety issue associated with nanotechnology in her recent paper.
Silver nanoparticles, known for their antimicrobial properties, have been used to coat medical materials to prevent hospital-acquired infections, which are a constant, expensive or even a fatal problem. These hospital-acquired microorganisms can develop a resistance to traditional drug treatments. The application of nanosilver coatings on hospital items are proving effective.
However, overuse of nanosilver products may be harmful to useful microorganisms and allows resistant strains to grow, particularly outside the medical environments. According to Eggleson, microbial biodiversity protection is advantageous under most conditions.
Wolfgang Porod, Director of NDnano and a Frank M. Freimann Professor of Electrical Engineering at University of Notre Dame, stated that NDnano is extending its reach into analyses of nanotechnology’s societal impact. For this purpose, Eggleson started the Nano Impacts Intellectual Community, a monthly meeting group that comprises the university researchers, local leaders, and authors and visiting scholars from outside the university to explore nanotechnology topics in detail.
The group has addressed such problems as the nanotechnology product commercialization, nanomedicine ethics, and the interdisciplinary aspect of nanotechnology research. NDnano faculty and Eggleson have also discussed with several local high school and middle school teachers who focus on nanotechnology. In addition, NDnano promotes Ivy Tech Community College-North Central's training program to educate nanotechnology technicians. The center is working on engaging the community in this revolutionary field, Eggleson concluded.