TABLE 1-1 Major Groups of Nanoparticles






Volcanic ash

Ocean spray

Biogenic magnetite:

Protoctists, Mollusks,

magnetotactic bacteria,

Arthropods, fish, birds,

human brain, [meteorite]

Forest fire smoke

Mineral composites

Ferritin (12.5 nm)

lipoprotein particles

(1-75 nm, plasma) Clouds

>500 peer-reviewed publications

Combustion products

Frying, cooking



Metal working

Biomaterial degradation

>10,000 peer-reviewed publications

Carbon nanotubes

Quantum dots

Sunscreen pigments


Semiconductor wires

~ 50 overall


SOURCE: Oberdörster, unpublished. Reprinted with permission.

improve strength, harness, heat resistance and flame retardancy of materials and are used to produce barrier films in plastic beverage bottles, paper juice cartons, and tennis balls. The third group is nanotubes that are used in coatings to dissipate and minimize static electricity in fuel lines and hard disk handling trays; they can also be found in electrostatically paintable car exterior components, flame-retardant fillers for plastics, and field emitter sources in flat panel displays. The fourth group is quantum dots used in exploratory medical diagnostics and therapeutics and self assembly of nanoelectronic structures.


Today the public is more educated, involved, and concerned about new technologies and industrial processes and their potential effect on human health and the environment than it was 50 or 60 years ago, said Kenneth Olden of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The potential health and environmental effects of nanoparticles and nanomaterials today raises public concern about nanotechnology. Health agencies in the United States have the responsibility to provide leadership to ensure the thorough assessment of safety and environmental effects of the new technologies as well as to communicate openly and clearly about the issues. Some of the new technologies, such as

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