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Assessing health effects of inhaled nanomaterials

Nanotechnology is an emerging multidisciplinary science that is associated with the synthesis, production, and application of particles in the nanoscale (10-9 meter) size range. The term “nanotechnology” is derived, in part, from the Greek word “nano,” meaning ”dwarf”. The development of new products using nanomaterials is exciting from a materials science perspective, because as one moves into the nanoscale size regime (i.e., reducing the particle size range below ~100 nm), the laws of both classical and quantum mechanics apply – often yielding completely new physical properties. For example, white titanium dioxide particles lose their color and become transparent at sizes below 50 nm. This feature may be useful in the production of cosmetics and other applications. Moreover, at the nanoscale level, some particles which have been utilized for electrical insulating may become conductive; or insoluble substances can become more soluble below 100 nm. As a consequence, these changes in physical properties enhance versatility and efficacy in product development, thus resulting in new industrial and medical applications.


Warheit, D. B., & Sayes, C. (2006). Assessing health effects of inhaled nanomaterials. EH&S Nano News, 1(7), 3-4.