If one wants to understand the importance of studying the health issues relating to nanotechnology, one would have to understand the extent to which this technology has grown, around the world.

Sunscreen – Many sunscreens contain nanoparticles of zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Earlier on  sunscreen formulas used larger particles, which is what gives most sunscreens their whitish color. Smaller particles are less visible, meaning that when you rub the sunscreen into your skin, it doesn’t leave a whitish tinge.

Self-cleaning glass – A company called Pilkington offers a product they call Activ Glass, which uses nanoparticles to make the glass photocatalytic and hydrophilic. The photocatalytic effect means that when UV radiation from light hits the glass, nanoparticles become energized and begin to break down and loosen organic molecules on the glass (in other words, dirt). Hydrophilic means that when water makes contact with the glass, it spreads across the glass evenly, which helps wash the glass clean.

Clothing – Scientists are using nanoparticles to enhance your clothing. By coating fabrics with a thin layer of zinc oxide nanoparticles, manufacturers can create clothes that give better protection from UV radiation. Some clothes have nanoparticles in the form of little hairs or whiskers that help repel water and other materials, making the clothing stain-resistant.

Scratch-resistant coatings – Engineers discovered that adding aluminum silicate nanoparticles to scratch-resistant polymer coatings made the coatings more effective and increases resistance to chipping and scratching. Scratch-resistant coatings are now very common on everything from cars to eyeglass lenses.

Antimicrobial bandages – Scientist Robert Burrell created a process to manufacture antibacterial bandages using nanoparticles of silver. Silver ions block microbes’ ability to breathe. Basically, the silver ions smother harmful cells, killing them.

New products that utilize nanotechnology are coming out every day. Wrinkle-resistant fabrics, deep-penetrating cosmetics, liquid crystal displays (LCD) and other appliances using nanotechnology are on the market. Surely we’ll see dozens of other products that take advantage of nanotechnology ranging from microprocessors to bio-nanobatteries, capacitors that are only a few nanometers thick. Although it’s only the tip of the iceberg as far as how nanotechnology may impact us in the future.



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