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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Nanotechnology' Category


Report Calls for Greater Review of Nanomaterials While Suit Seeks to Block Nanosilver Approval

(Beyond Pesticides, January 27, 2012) The National Research Council (NRC) released a report on Wednesday, finding that, despite extensive investment in nanotechnology and increasing commercialization over the last decade, insufficient understanding remains about the environmental, health, and safety aspects of nanomaterials. Just one day later, a lawsuit was filed in court by the Natural Resources Defense Council challenging approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of a particular nanomaterial, nanosilver, citing the lack of scientific grounding. The suit, filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, seeks to block EPA from allowing nanosilver on the market without legally-required data about its suspected harmful effects on humans and wildlife. Starting in December 2011, EPA allowed the company HeiQ Materials to sell nanosilver used in fabrics for the next four years as the company generates the required data on toxicity to human health and aquatic organisms. According to the NRC report, without a coordinated research plan to help guide efforts to manage and avoid potential risks, the future of safe and sustainable nanotechnology is uncertain. The report presents a strategic approach for developing research and a scientific infrastructure needed to address potential health and environmental risks of […]



Consumer Safety Groups Sue Food and Drug Administration Over Lax Nanotechnology Review

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2012) A coalition of six consumer safety groups filed suit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 21, 2011, citing the FDA’s chronic failure to regulate materials derived from nanotechnology (nanomaterials) used in sunscreens, cosmetics and drugs. The lawsuit demands that FDA respond to a May 2006 petition the coalition filed calling for regulatory actions, including nano-specific product labeling, health and safety testing, and an analysis of the environmental impacts of nanomaterials in products regulated by FDA. The lawsuit cites numerous studies and reports published since 2006 that establish significant data gaps concerning nanomaterials’ potential effects on human health and the environment. Led by the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA), the coalition is calling for FDA to take immediate action to assess the actual risks from nanomaterials and implement appropriate protective measures for consumers. While receiving minimal regulatory scrutiny or public attention, nanotechnology is becoming an increasingly prevalent practice for developing the next generation of ingredients in a wide range of consumer products. Generally defined, nanotechnology is the practice of manipulating matter on an atomic or molecular level to produce materials between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm) in size. A nanometer is […]



EPA Grants Conditional Registration to Nanosilver Product Before Reviewing Pertinent Data

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conditionally registering a pesticide product containing nanosilver as a new active ingredient. The antimicrobial pesticide product, HeiQ AGS-20, a silver-based product for use as a preservative for textiles to help control odors, is being granted registration despite a long list of outstanding studies that have yet to be submitted and reviewed by EPA. As a testament to EPA’s flawed registration process, the agency will now require additional data on the product after it has entered the marketplace to confirm its assumption that the product will not cause ”˜unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment,’ the general standard for registration under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). HeiQ AGS-20 is a nanosilver-silica composite with nanosilver particles that are incorporated into textiles and release of silver ions to suppress the growth of bacteria, which cause textile odors, stains, and degradation. Despite an emerging database that shows that nanosilver is much more toxic than conventional-sized silver and can cause damage in new ways, the agency pressed forward with registration of a product for which it has not fully evaluated human and environmental health data. For conditional registration, […]



EPA Fines Logitech for Antibacterial Claims, Consumers Are Misled by Marketing of Products with Antimicrobials

(Beyond Pesticides, October 5, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered computer peripherals maker Logitech, Inc. to pay a fine of $261,000 for illegally advertising one of its keyboards as protecting users from bacteria and microbes. EPA found that the company made unsubstantiated public health claims about its keyboard, a violation of federal law. However, the widespread marketing of hundreds of products that are advertised as containing antibacterial ingredients (without a health claim), which EPA maintains is not technically illegal, underscores the misconception consumers have when purchasing products that incorporate ”˜antibacterials.’ Beyond Pesticides has ueged EPA to prohibit more broadly advertising references to these antibacterial ingredients, since they imply that public health protection extends to the user when in fact it does not. Logitech”˜s keyboard incorporates a pesticide- AgION silver -and then alleges protection from bacteria and other microbes. According to EPA, the company marketed the keyboard as protecting the user from bacteria and microbes. However, to promote the health benefits in this way, before products can be sold their product efficacy must be established in compliance with EPA guidelines under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Evidence found online and during an investigation in 2008 […]



Experts Warn of Nano Resistance, Call for Oversight

(Beyond Pesticides, September 28, 2011) Overuse of antibacterial agents contributes to promoting the development of more powerful bacteria that are resistant to treatment. This, according to a new report released by Friends of the Earth in which leading microbiologists warn that the rapid rise in household antibacterial products containing nanosilver could put public health at risk. The report emphasizes that as the numbers of deaths caused by bacterial resistance to antimicrobials and antibiotics in hospitals continues to rise, as well as increasing allergy incidents, the need to regulatory oversight is urgently needed. Dozens of socks, shoe inserts, sports clothing and towels now marketed as ”˜antibacterial’ or ”˜odor controlling’ use nanoparticles of silver to kill the bacteria that cause odor. Since nanosilver can be manufactured as spheres, particles, rods, cubes, wires, film and coatings, it can be embedded into a range of substrates, such as metals, ceramics, polymers, glass and textiles leading to its widespread commercialization. To see a listing of products that contain nanosilver see here. In interviews for this report, entitled, “Nano-silver: Policy Failures Put Public Health at Risk,” published by Friends of the Earth, medical experts warn that using such a powerful antimicrobial in these everyday products is […]



New Research Aims To Identify Nanosilver’s Toxic Trigger

(Beyond Pesticides, August 12, 2011) Researchers have begun investigating silver nanoparticles, or nanosilver, in order to discover what exactly makes the particles toxic to the environment. Although scientists have long been concerned about the evidence of toxicity of nanosilver to both human health and the natural environment, research so far has been unclear on which properties of the particles actually make them toxic. The dangers may stem from the nanoparticles themselves, but they may also be due to the silver ions that the particles shed. Previous attempts to distinguish nanoparticles from silver ions have proven unfruitful, as they have been unable to fully separate the two. However, a new method developed by researchers in China aims to use an older technique called cloud point extraction and apply it to the nanosilver in order to separate the ions from the particles. This will enable researchers to identify whether consumer products, as well as environmental samples such as wastewater, containing nanosilver actually contain nanoparticles or if they contain silver ions. The method will need to be refined further in order to adequately examine the very small nanosilver concentrations that are most often found in the environment, such as in wastewater or surface […]



Feds To Gather Data on Nanomaterials

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to obtain information on nanoscale materials in pesticide products, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released draft guidelines to industries about when the use of nanomaterials might trigger regulatory interest. These two actions announced last week will aim to clarify the role that extremely small materials can play in items such as cosmetics and food production and packaging and gather environmental and human health related data. According to EPA, the agency will gather information on what nanoscale materials are present in pesticide products to determine whether the registration of a pesticide may cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment and human health. The proposed policy will soon be open for public comment. “We want to obtain timely and accurate information on what nanoscale materials may be in pesticide products,“ said Steve Owens assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “This information is needed for EPA to meet its requirement under the law to protect public health and the environment.” EPA states that it recognizes that nanoscale materials have a range of potentially beneficial public and commercial applications, including pest control products. However, […]



Large Knowledge Gap In Nanoagriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2011) In an article published by the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists at the University of Texas, El Paso and a co-investigator for the NSF/EPA University of California Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology warned that, as a new era of nanoagriculture is about to start, very little is known about it from a human and environmental health standpoint. The findings are published in an article entitled “Interaction of Nanoparticles with Edible Plants and Their Possible Implications in the Food Chain.” Nanoagriculture is the use of nanotechnology to boost the productivity of plants, primarily for food or fuel. The researchers, led by Jorge Gardea-Torresdey, PhD, set out to better understand whether certain plants take up and accumulate nanoparticles, and if so whether this interaction poses problems for the plants–and the animals that eat those plants. The particles also could end up in the environment, settling in the soil, especially as fertilizers, growth enhancers and other nanoagricultural products hit the market. Some plants can take-up and accumulate nanoparticles. The scientists compiled and analyzed over 100 scientific studies into the effects of nanoparticles on edible plants (including cucumbers, rye, barley, and zucchini), […]



California to Take a Hard Look at Nano-Substances

(Beyond Pesticides, January 26, 2011) California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is asking in-state nanotechnology companies and researchers to share how they’re keeping tabs on several nano-sized metals, as evidence continues to emerge that these substances may have long-term implications for the environment. Nano-sized materials, now incorporated into many consumer products including paper wrapping, clothing and cosmetics, are currently not regulated and have not been assessed for hazards that have the potential to impact public health and the environment. Late last month, the DTSC put out a request for information about nano-sized silver, zero valent iron, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, cerium oxide and quantum dots. Specifically, the agency wants to know what tools companies and researchers are using to analyze these materials””a key question for regulators across the country in the effort to understand the impact of the substances””over a broad range of areas, including air, water, soil, sewage sludge and urine. Nanotechnology, which capitalizes on unique properties of super-small particles, is already in use in manufacturing items like bike frames, skin creams and cancer treatments. As these tiny materials hit the market, there are huge gaps in what scientists know about their properties. Jeffrey Wong, DTSC’s chief scientist, […]



International Coalition Calls for Smart Definition of Nanotechnology

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2010) A coalition of over 40 environmental organizations from 22 different countries are calling on the European Commission to ensure nanomaterials are adequately defined and regulated in the EU by rapidly adopting a “cautious and broad” definition. The groups hope that by defining nanomaterials, long-awaited regulation can finally be put in place to help ensure they do not harm people and the environment. The recommendations were submitted by the green group European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and the Center of International Environmental Law (CIEL) on November 19. The Commission is set to adopt a final definition, which will be applicable to all EU legislation addressing nanomaterials, by the end of the year. “Regulation has been stuck for many years because of the absence of a definition, so this proposed definition is very much welcome,” says Senior Attorney David Azoulay from CIEL. “But if the final definition adopted is too narrow and does not include all materials for which there are health concerns, it might render all future regulation useless.” In the U.S., the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) heard testimony on the development of a definition and policy on nanotechnology in organic standards in October. While the […]



Group Petitions EPA to Stop Sale of Nano-Copper Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, November 23, 2010) The International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) filed a legal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling on the agency to use its pesticide regulation authority to halt the sale of untested nano-copper wood preservative products. The letter is the second ICTA challenge in the past two years of EPA’s failure to regulate pesticidal nanomaterials. In 2008, ICTA, Beyond Pesticides, Friends of the Earth and others including filed a petition challenging EPA’s failure to regulate nanosilver as a unique pesticide. ICTA research found nano-copper-based wood preservative pesticides in wide use. Yet, despite EPA’s two-year old policy to classify such pesticides as “new” and requiring further data, the agency has not treated them any different than larger particle based preservatives. The three nano-copper products highlighted in the letter are manufactured by Osmose, Inc. In each instance, although the active ingredient, copper carbonate, was purchased from another company, the copper carbonate is then milled by Osmose to produce nanoparticles of copper carbonate. A 2008 report notes that nano-copper preservatives have captured at least 50% of the North American wood preservative market. However, recent reports have noted that market capture could be as high as 75-80% now. […]



NOSB Proposes Ban on Nanotechnology in Certified Organic Products

(Beyond Pesticides, November 5, 2010) At its October 2010 meeting, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) passed a recommendation directing the USDA National Organic Program to prohibit engineered nanomaterials from certified organic products as expeditiously as possible. The NOSB, the expert citizen advisory panel set up by Congress to advise the USDA on organic policy, reviews materials and provides recommendations to the NOP on what should be allowed and prohibited in organic agriculture and processing, as materials and methods change over time. Organic advocates, members of the organic industry and the NOSB are concerned that engineered nanomaterials could contaminate organic food and fibers. Nanotechnology is the science and manipulation of chemical and biological materials with dimensions in the range from 1-300 nanometers (according to the NOSB recommendation). Because nanotechnology is such a new field, nanomaterials were not specifically addressed when the Organic Foods Production Act was passed in 1990. While synthetic materials are already prohibited from organic production, unless specifically exempted, the NOSB recommendation will pressure the NOP to block petitions seeking an exemption and keep nanomaterials out of food packaging and contact surfaces. The recommendation also provides clarification that nanosized particles of synthetic substances […]



Scientists Urge Caution with Nanomaterials in Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2010) Nanotechnology has played an increasing role in the world of pesticides, particularly in the form of silver nanoparticles for their antibacterial properties; however, as this field grows, scientists and researchers are becoming increasingly concerned with the potential impacts of these particles on public health and the environment. A new study by scientists from Oregon State University (OSU) and the European Union (EU) highlights the major regulatory and educational issues that they believe should be considered before nanoparticles are used in pesticides. The study was published Monday in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. “Unlike some other applications of nanotechnology, which are further along in development, applications for pesticides are in their infancy,” said Dr. Stacey Harper, PhD, an assistant professor of nanotoxicology at Oregon State University. “There are risks and a lot of uncertainties, however, so we need to understand exactly what’s going on, what a particular nanoparticle might do, and work to eliminate use of any that do pose dangers. Some of the potential benefits of nanotechnology that scientists discuss in the report are that it may provide better control and delivery of active ingredients, less environmental drift, formulations that will most […]



Send Your Comments to EPA as Scientists Examine the Fate of Silver Nanoparticle Waste

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2010) Researchers from Virginia Tech discovered, for the first time, a way to detect nanosilver particles in the environment, finding that the particles leaching from consumer products can transform into silver sulfide in sewer sludge. Despite their widespread use, scientists still know very little about how nanomaterials move from consumer manufactured products into the environment and what impact they might have. These findings provide new information about the life cycle of silver nanoparticles, which are used in a number of consumer products as antimicrobial agents, including cosmetics, sunscreens, sporting goods, clothing, electronics, baby and infant products, food, and food packaging. Previous studies have shown that the particles, which are between one and 100 nanometers in size and smaller than many viruses, can enter the environment through wastewater, where they can accumulate in biosolids at wastewater treatment plants. These biosolids, also known as sewage sludge, are often sold to consumers as fertilizer, despite the fact that they can contain toxic contaminants, including another antibacterial, triclosan, which was recently found to persist in the environment. Nanosized particles can be released from impregnated materials via washing or or as a result of sweating, posing unknown adverse effects to humans […]



Nanosilver Particles Can Stop Sperm Cells from Growing

(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2010) New research shows that silver nanomaterials, which are used in a number of consumer products as antimicrobial agents, can interrupt important cell signaling within male reproductive sperm cells, causing them to stop growing. In previous studies, scientists reported how smaller-sized silver nanoparticles — in the 10 – 25 nanometer range — decrease the growth of male stem cells when they are exposed at concentrations greater than 10 micrograms per milliliter (ĂŽÂĽg/ml). This new study, on the other hand, is the first to identify how the silver nanoparticles stop the sperm stem cells from growing, with the biggest effects from the smallest-sized nanoparticles tested. Like many other studies on the effects of nanotechnology, this study raises important questions about the potential hazards to human health due to the prolific use of silver nanoparticles in the market. Researchers tested the effects of different sizes, concentrations and coatings of silver nanoparticles on cell growth of mouse sperm cells. They compared silver nanoparticles coated with either hydrocarbons — at 15 nm, 25 nm and 80 nm diameters — or sugars — at 10 nm, 25 – 30 nm and 80 nm diameter. Exposure to the smaller sized particles led […]



Antimicrobial Nanoparticles in Soil Can Harm Plants

(Beyond Pesticides, August 13, 2010) A new study finds that silver nanoparticles, which are used in consumer products and in hospitals for their antimicrobial properties, can harm plant life when it enters into the natural environment. Where silver nanoparticles are present in the soil, plant species are reduced by 22 percent, with an additional 20 percent reduction of microbial biomass, as compared to those plants without the presence of nanoparticles. Researchers applied biosolids with silver nanoparticles into the soil of plants growing in intermediate sized rubber tubs, using a concentration within the range that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported finding in biosolids from a recent survey. “There have been a lot of lab studies looking at silver nanoparticles showing that they are highly toxic to bacteria, fungi, other microorganisms,” explained Ben Colman, PhD to Scientific American. Dr. Coleman is a postdoctoral researcher at Duke University who led the study. “Most of these studies have been conducted in very simple lab settings, [with] one species of bacteria””often the “lab rat” of the bacteria world, E [scherichia]. coli ””[in] a test tube with very simple media and nanoparticles. So we wanted to move beyond this because it’s really hard […]



Canada Bans Nanotechnology in Organics

(Beyond Pesticides, May 5, 2010)



Nanosilver Migrates Out of Fabric in Study

(Beyond Pesticides, May 3, 2010) Researchers have found that silver nanoparticles can migrate out of fabrics that have been treated with the particles for its antibacterial properties when it is exposed to simulated perspiration, raising concerns about human exposure to nanosilver through skin absorption. This is the first study to use artificial sweat to mimic the conditions of human skin, however it is not clear if the silver materials in sweat would be absorbed through human skin. Silver has long been used as an antiseptic to reduce bacterial growth on skin, however recent advances in nanoscience (the science and manipulation of chemical and biological materials with dimensions in the range from 1-100 nanometers) led to the development of silver nanoparticles. Due to their small size, these nanoparticles are able to invade bacteria and other microorganisms and kill them, and silver nanoparticles (or nanosilver) are now widely impregnated into a wide range of consumer products, including textiles such as socks, sportswear, underwear and bedding, vacuums, washing machines, toys, sunscreens, and a host of others. The researchers tested and compared eleven different fabrics for the study, “Determination of silver nanoparticle release from antibacterial fabrics into artificial sweat” in Particle and Fibre Toxicology […]



New Study Finds Nanosilver Products Toxic to Fish

(Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2010) Scientists at Purdue University have found that nanosilver that is sonicated or suspended in solution is toxic and even lethal to fathead minnows, an organism that is often used to measure toxicity on aquatic life. The study is the latest research to demonstrate the need for federal regulatory agencies to regulate emerging nanotechnologies as a unique pesticide. The study, “The effects of silver nanoparticles on fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) embryos,” led by Maria SepĂşlveda, PhD and published in Ecotoxicology, describes the toxicity of two commercial silver nanoparticle products: NanoAmor and Sigma. Fathead minnows at several stages of their development were exposed to varying concentrations of either suspended or stirred nanoparticle solutions for 96 hours. When the nanosilver was allowed to settle, the solution became several times less toxic, but still caused malformations in the minnows. With or without sonication, nanosilver caused irregularities, including head hemorrhages and edema, and was ultimately lethal. “Silver nitrate is a lot more toxic than nanosilver, but when nanosilver was sonicated, or suspended, its toxicity increased tenfold,” said Dr. SepĂşlveda. “There is reason to be concerned.” Using Transmission Electron Microscopy, Dr. SepĂşlveda was able to detect nanosilver particles measuring 30 nanometers […]



Report Shows Overuse of Disinfectants Is Harmful

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2009) A new report links disinfectant chemicals with chronic illnesses and conditions such as asthma, hormone imbalance, and immune system problems. The report, Disinfectant Overkill: How Too Clean May Be Hazardous to Our Health, was released by the national environmental health group Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), and cites more than 40 peer-reviewed reports and scientific studies that document the health impacts of chemicals found in household disinfectants. Chemicals reviewed in the report include chlorine bleach, ammonia, triclosan and triclocarban, ammonium quarternary compounds, and nano-silver. “Companies are working hard to convince consumers, and especially moms, that they need to regularly disinfect every surface in their homes to protect their families from illness. But that’s simply not true and it may not be healthy,” says WVE staff scientist and report author Alexandra Scranton. “We’re encouraging consumers to go back to basics for cleaning, with less of a focus on disinfection and more on non-toxic cleaners and a little elbow grease.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), frequent hand washing with hot water and regular soap is the best way to prevent infection and illness. “Antimicrobial chemicals available in the home today were […]



Samsung Fined For Antimicrobial Keyboard Claims

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined Samsung for violating the federal pesticide law when it publicized that its keyboards, produced with nanosilver, were antimicrobial and inhibited germs and bacteria without registering its products with EPA. The claims made on the company’s labels and promotional material for netbook and notebook computer laptops would render the products pesticides, requiring registration by EPA. Dell also has keyboards treated with nanosilver for antimicrobial purposes which are registered with EPA. Nanosilver has been promoted for its antibacterial properties and is used in many products such as sporting goods, band-aids, clothing, baby and infant products, and food and food packaging. However, very little is known about where these particles end up when such products are put to use. Many consider silver to be more toxic than other metals when in nanoscale form and that these particles have a different toxicity mechanism compared to dissolved silver. Scientists have concluded that nanoparticles can pass easily into cells and affect cellular function, depending on their shape and size. Preliminary research with laboratory rats has found that silver nanoparticles can traverse into the brain, and can induce neuronal degeneration and necrosis (death of cells […]



Conditions Affect Release of Nanosilver from Treated Products

(Beyond Pesticides, October 14, 2009) New research by scientists at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research provides a first look at the behavior of nanosilver textiles under real-world washing conditions. This work builds on earlier studies conducted in water which show that nanosilver leaches from fabrics and textiles during washing to enter the environment. The study, “The Behavior of Silver Nanotextiles during Washing” published in Environmental Science and Technology, found that the total amount and form of silver (dissolved or particulate) that leaches during washing varies significantly depending on the product and the conditions. The goal was to determine the amount and the form of silver released during washing from nine fabrics with different ways of silver incorporation into or onto the fibers. The effect of pH, surfactants, and oxidizing agents was also evaluated. In the washing machine the majority of the nanosilver (at least 50% but mostly >75%) was released in the size fraction more than 450 nm, indicating the dominant role of mechanical stress. The researchers found that under typical washing conditions (pH 10—11, with high levels of surfactants), dissolved concentrations of silver were 10 times lower than at pH 7. However, when bleaching agents […]



Antimicrobial Claims Prompt Lawsuit by EPA under Pesticide Law

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just announced that it filed suit against San Leandro based VF Corporation for the sale and distribution of unregistered pesticides through its retail company, The North Face. An AgION silver treated footbed, which the company claims has antimicrobial properties, is featured in over 70 styles of shoes by the company. These claims, according to the EPA, are in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The company could face up to $1 million in fines. While these products do not purport to usie nano-sized silver materials, the claims that are made for these products are suspiciously similar to those made by manufacturers for other nano-based antimicrobial products. These claims include: inhibiting the growth of disease-causing bacteria; preventing bacterial and fungal growth; and the continuous release of antimicrobial agents. Because of the lack of regulation, nanotechnology products are not always easy to recognize in the marketplace, and even the best lists do not include everything. Consumer products that include nano-based technologies, however continue to grow. EPA has taken a few regulatory actions against other manufacturers whose products made similar claims as this case, including action against […]