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Understanding exposure to nanoparticles

This is Science Today. Chances are, every day you are being exposed to nanoparticles. From cosmetics to stain resistant fabrics, the first generation of these nanoscale materials are being used in a broad range of industries.

Kelly:              For example, carbon nanotubes are being used in baseball bats and bicycles and hockey sticks and sporting equipment because carbon nanofibers, carbon nanotubes, give you tremendous strength, tremendous structural rigidity for very, very lightweight. The potential there is incredible.

Narrator:        Rick Kelly, an Environmental Health and Safety Manager at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, says there are concerns about the environmental impact of nanomaterials.

Kelly:              A lot of sunscreens contain nanoscale zinc oxide or nanoscale titanium and it looks to be a perfectly fine thing to do, but there is this concern that we might start marketing things before we fully understand their hazards and therefore, they become a hazard to the environment and to the public at large. 810 Even though we don't really understand all of the toxicity of materials, there are general rules that can be applied, that can insure that they are in fact safe.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.