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Toxicology of the Tiny

Already incorporated into consumer products ranging from baseball bats and clothing to sunscreens and toothpaste, engineered nanoparticles — ENPs — hold great promise in such areas as energy, pollution remediation, medicine and materials science. The nanotechnology industry is projected to be worth $1 trillion by 2015.

It is all made possible by the peculiar properties of nanoparticles, which are defined as having at least one dimension measuring 100 nanometers or less (a nanometer being one-billionth of a meter, or about one one-hundred-thousandth the width of a human hair).

As the number of new nanoparticles rapidly increases, they likely will be released in greater number and diversity into the environment — when the particles are fabricated, during the manufacture of nano-enabled products, throughout the useful life of those products, and at end of life as they find their way into landfills, incinerators and, potentially, soil, water and air.
 
 

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