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The invisible killer lurking in our consumer products: University of Eastern Finland

JOENSUU, Finland, Feb. 9, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Our consumer products , like food, cosmetics and clothing, can be full of nanomaterials, without our knowing it. The use of nanomaterials remains unregulated and does not appear on ingredient lists. This is cause for concern as nanomaterials can be more dangerous than COVID-19 in the long term if safety measures are not taken: they are difficult to measure, they enter our food chain, and most alarmingly, they can penetrate into cells and accumulate in our organs.

Nanotechnology is appearing everywhere to change our daily lives. Thanks to the applications of nanotechnology, we can treat many diseases so effectively that they will soon be a thing of the past. We also have materials that are 100 times stronger than steel, batteries that last 10 times longer than before, solar panels that produce twice as much energy as old ones, skin care products that keep us looking young, without Mention the cars self-cleaning windows and clothes. These used to be science fiction material and Hollywood movies, but now they are the reality we live in.

Nanotechnology has the potential to become the next industrial revolution. The global market for nanomaterials is growing, estimated at 11 million tons at a market value of 20 billion euros . Current direct employment in the nanomaterials sector is estimated at between 300,000 and 400,000 in Europe alone.

However, nanomaterials and their use in consumer products are far from problematic. A new study published today in Nature Communications sheds light on whether they are harmful and what happens to them when they enter an organism. An international team of researchers developed a sensitive method to find and track nanomaterials in blood and tissues, and tracked nanomaterials along an aquatic food chain, from microorganisms to fish, which is an important food source in many countries. This method can open up new horizons for taking security actions.

"We found that nanomaterials bind strongly to microorganisms, which are a food source for other organisms, and this is how they can enter our food chain. Once inside an organism, nanomaterials can change their shape and form. size and spin into a more dangerous material that can easily penetrate cells and spread to other organs. Looking at different organs in an organism, we found that nanomaterials tend to accumulate especially in the brain, "said lead author Dr. Fazel A. Monikh from the University of Eastern Finland says.

Nanomaterials are also difficult to measure, according to the researchers: their quantity in an organism cannot be measured using their mass alone, which is the standard method for measuring other chemicals for regulations. The findings emphasize the importance of assessing the risk of nanomaterials before they are introduced into consumer products in large quantities. A better understanding of nanomaterials and their risks can help policymakers introduce stricter rules on their use and on how they are mentioned in product ingredient lists.

"You may already be using nanomaterials in your food, clothing, cosmetic products, etc., but you still don't see any mention of them in the ingredient list. Why? Because they are not regulated yet and because they are so small that you just we cannot measure them once they are in their products, "says Dr. Fazel A. Monikh .

"People have the right to know what they are using and buying for their families. This is a global problem that needs a global solution. There are still many unanswered questions about nanomaterials. Are they safe for us and the environment? Where are they? will they end after we finish using them? How can we assess their possible risk? "concludes Dr. Fazel A. Monikh .

The study was conducted in collaboration between the University of Eastern Finland ( Finland ), the University of Leiden ( The Netherlands ), the National Institute of Public Health and the environment ( the Netherlands ), the University of South Bohemia ( Czech Republic ), the University of Birmingham (the United Kingdom ), the Environmental Nanoscience Laboratory ( India ) and the University of Vigo (Spain) .

For more information, contact:

Postdoctoral researcher Fazel A. Monikh, PhD
Email: fazel.monikh (at) uef.fi

Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland

Research article:

Trophic transfer of gold nanomaterials based on the number of particles in an aquatic food chain.

Fazel A. Monikh, L. Chupani, D. Arenas-Lago, Z. Guo, P. Zhang, G. Krishna Darbha E. Valsami-Jones, I. Lynch, MG Vijver 1, PM van Bodegom, and WJGM Peijnenburg. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21164-w[19459007

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SOURCE University of Eastern Finland

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