Today I was astonished that in the article “A New Use for Coal: Glowing Nanodots” the tech review was at least making the case, that a new material may constitute a health hazard:
Tour, who led the research, says early tests suggest that the particles are nontoxic, and says his group is working on developing the particles into fluorescent probes and drug-delivery vehicles.
This has not always been the case, as can be seen e.g. in the article:
“Nanotubes Turned Into Super Fibers” where possible commercial applications for nanotubes, like washable electronic textiles and medical implants that resist corrosion were mentioned without any reference to the toxity of carbon nanotubes, nanotoxicology in general or other environmental hazards.
It is of course press freedom to choose to write about nanotech in this way and of course it is difficult to judge about the impact and reliability of studies for hazards. Like what does the reaction of Zebrafish embryos on nanomaterials such as nanosilver exactly mean for the environment and for humans? (Like the company “Hohenstein Institute” conducted a study (with 60 test persons!) and found no health hazard for using nanosilver in t-shirts after six weeks (!).)
However promoting new materials without any remark on their possible downfalls (at least if if the negative impact seems to be rather high) leaves at least me back with a sort of awkward taste to the term “smart material”.
*this stone was suddenly lying on our kitchen floor, when coming back from a holiday visit. Our guests over christmas (including six year olds though) and our kids claimed it wasn’t from them. I have no idea what kind of stone this is, is it petrified coal? Is it precious or dangerous? So if this stone should belong to any other visitor of our place then please let us know.