The National Nanotechnology Initiative, defines nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers. This technology is about controlling matter at an atomic and molecular level. Nanotechnology is expected to be helpful in the production of new materials. It can prove to be useful in a variety of fields like electronics and medicine. But we need to look at the dangers it may pose to the life forms on Earth, and the societal implications it may have. Here is a list of some disadvantages of nanotechnology.
➡ According to a discovery, silver nanoparticles used in socks to fight foot odor, if released into water, can be detrimental to its purity.
➡ Silver nanoparticles are bacteriostatic, which means they limit the growth of bacteria. This may result in the destruction of bacteria that help in breaking down the organic matter in water treatment plants.
➡ Recent research has revealed that some kinds of carbon nanotubes can prove as harmful as asbestos inhaled in fair quantities. They may cause mesothelioma.
➡ The process of manufacturing nanomaterials results in the release of certain waste products. They can float in air or even penetrate animal and plant cells.
➡ Nanoparticles have large surfaces. This makes them susceptible to get absorbed by macromolecules in an animal's body.
➡ As the particles are very small in size, they are more readily absorbed by the human body. Their behavior depends on their shape, size, and surface reactivity. They may lead to overload on phagocytes, resulting in weakening of the body's defense mechanism. They may also react with processes in the body and affect the functioning of body organs.
➡ The other difficulty is that, owing to the variety in these particles and given the many factors on which their behavior depends, it is not possible to predict their effects on the body.
➡ The waste generated by nanodevices or during the manufacture of nanomaterials, can be referred to as nanopollution. When released into air or water, the waste material accumulates in the environment. When a part of manufactured products, it has to be disposed or recycled.
➡ In order to know the exact effects of nanoparticles on the environment, their life cycle has to be assessed, which is not quite easy.
➡ Nanotechnology has certain serious social implications. Nanotechnological products may replace natural substances. Farmers and factory workers whose livelihood depends on the production and distribution of these substances may face economic problems. Nanotechnology may lead to people losing their jobs.
➡ Agricultural countries may have to face financial losses if nanomaterials produced in developed countries begin to substitute for their agricultural products.
➡ The mass production of substances achieved due to nanotechnology may lead to these substances losing their value.
➡ Manipulating materials at the atomic or molecular level may lead to issues like patenting matter.
Nanotechnology can be advantageous to a good extent. But considering its environmental and social implications, the decision to apply it in different fields, requires a second thought.