Editorial Feature

Potential Risks of Nanotechnologies on the Environment & Food Chains

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The potential effects of nanotechnologies on food chain nanoparticles and environment can happen naturally, by combustion for example, but they are continuously being produced for medical and industrial applications.

Based on the methods used in producing these nanoparticles and given their extensive dissemination, they can be discharged into air or water, which eventually pollute soil and groundwater.

Moreover, nanoparticles are progressively being used in various disposable products that, sooner or later, have to be recycled or eliminated as waste. Therefore, the question is how people are  exposed to nanoparticles, more specifically to engineered nanoparticles and in what quantities?

Does the Tiny Size of Nanomaterials Make Them More of a Threat

Nowadays, some environmentalists fear that nanotechnology may produce contaminants whose minute size makes them extremely dangerous. If they enter the groundwater, even if the nanoparticles themselves are not hazardous, they could react with other harmful matter. In the long run, there is the possibility for much broader exposure of the whole ecosystem to engineered nanomaterials through the soil and water.

Nanomaterial Contamination of Soil and Groundwater

If nanomaterial applications advance very rapidly as predicted, the growing concentrations of nanomaterials in soil and groundwater could present the most substantial exposure paths for evaluating environmental dangers. Due to their extreme division and powerful reactivity and mobility, it is important to assess the risks associated with nanoparticles transfer and their presence in the environment.

When nanoparticles are dispersed in the environment by “classical” use or in an unintentional way, how will they impact the systems in terms of bio-toxicity, bio-accumulation, and mutagenic effects?

Nanomaterial Contamination of the Food Chain

Nanomaterials could make up an entirely new class of non-biodegradable contaminants, with which researchers clearly are still unacquainted. The main risk involved in nanotechnology stems from the “invisible” size of the particles being created.

Environmentalists are concerned that such particles could inadvertently enter into the food chain, principally causing damage to animals and plants while ultimately posing a danger to humans. The second risk of nanoparticles is attributed to their crystalline structure, large surface area, and reactivity, which could enable their transport in the environment or lead to destruction as a result of their interactions with other elements.

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