Nanoparticles: How does asbestos work?

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Nanoparticles: How does asbestos work?

Nanoparticles are used almost everywhere in modern industry and food processing. Researchers have long warned of the massive use of nanoparticles. The medical professor Prof. Dr. Thomas Kraus of the University Hospital Aachen sees a potential risk for workers. Scientists had recently found evidence that indicates an asbestos-like effect.

Nano coatings and nanoparticles can be found in numerous foods, working materials and cosmetic articles. For example, the particles produce a milk foam in the commercially available cappuccino powder without the consumer having to foam the milk. The particles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are used in conventional sun creams for improved UV protection. Nanotechnology is now even used in medicines. The nanoparticles, for example, channel the active ingredients to the right place in the body.

Health risks for workers Medical professionals have now found indications that indicate a potential risk for workers when they work with nano-coatings in their everyday work. The particles could develop an asbestos-like mode of action, as the Aachen medical researcher Thomas Kraus confirmed to the news magazine "Focus". For consumers, on the other hand, "who may be wearing socks with a nano coating or smeared with nano-particle sunscreen, I think the assumption of a danger is highly speculative," Kraus told the magazine. However, there are indications that so-called carbon nanotubes trigger diseases in mammals that are similar to those caused by asbestos fibers. The most common asbestos disease is lung cancer.

Studies confirm health risks In August 2009, Chinese researchers presented a study according to which nanoparticles in dyes can cause serious lung diseases. A Japanese study indicated that nanoparticles can negatively affect fetal brain development. Nevertheless, manufacturers only have to declare their products with reference to nanoparticles from 2013. Environmentalists and consumer advocates have been calling for immediate labeling for years.

Professor Kraus is a board member of the German Society for Occupational and Environmental Medicine. At this year's annual conference in Heidelberg, experts want to discuss the new findings in the field of nanotechnology. Because the findings of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment after a cancer risk should be taken “very seriously”, as a member of the panel of experts emphasized. (sb)

Read on this topic:
Laser printer: alarming results?
Nanoparticles in sun milk
Homeopathy: Researchers detect nanoparticles

Image: TU Braunschweig, Institute for Electrical Measurement and Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering.

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Video: Asbestos u0026 Secondhand Exposure


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