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Risks In Different Nanotech Applications 49

Risks in different nanotech applications


Nanotech has led to amazing innovations that that have revolutionized many areas of human life due to its many applications. The uses include medical uses, industrial process, materials such as clothes, electronics, molecular manufacturing, sustainable energy applications, environmental applications, roboticsand many others. The use of nanotech has had numerous benefits. This report starts by exploring the benefits of nanotechnology in medicine. Every good innovation has its drawback and thus the application of nanotechnology is not unique since it has various drawbacks the make its application risk to human and environmental health. In this regard, the report will explore the various risks associated by application of nanotechnology in various application platforms. The report will also provide the reasons why it is important to understand the risks associated with application of nanotech. On a positive note the report will discuss these risks as well as their possible solutions. It will also provide the social and political impacts of the risks and solutions.


Used in medical Diagnostics:

Nanotech is emerging as a useful medical diagnostic tool. It is being developed as a method of detecting cancer cells in the bloodstream using nanoparticles called nanoflares. These nanoflares generate light when the genetic target in question is detected. In the meantime researchers are developing a certain nanoparticle which will make detection of cancer tumors easy and as early as possible (Shrivastava & Dash, 2009, p. 2). There is also a development of a method of detecting brain cancer using magnetic nanoparticles together with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology. They have also included Carbon nanotubes and gold nanoparticles in detection of proteins that indicate presence of oral cancer. Research has proven this test to be very accurate and first enough to produce results in less than hour. Silver nanorod has been adopted for use in a diagnostic system that uses blood samples and effectively separates bacteria, and viruses, among other microscopic components. In a laboratory sample nanoparticles can facilitate disease early detection, since they attach to proteins and other molecules (Patil, Mehta & Guvva, 2008). Flu virus can be detected very first by gold nanoparticles. Early detection approaches for illness need nanoparticles that develop clumps. Quantum Dots in future may be used for locating cancer tumors and performing diagnostic tests in samples. Since there are concerns due to toxicity of using quantum, there are restrictions on usage on human patients. Either way these lead to development and use of quantum dots which are composed of silicon hence less toxic. A combination of Gold nanoparticles with fluorescent protein is used in systems diagnosis to determine the type of cancer present.

In image diagnostic, using a Nano-roughed glass plates researchers have found out that cancer cells in the blood can be captured and this will enable them comprehend the way it spreads from tumors. To improve MRI imaging for cancerous tumors, iron oxide nanoparticles are frequently employed due their effectiveness.

Nanotechnology is used as a form of therapy (nanomedicine)

Nanotech can be used in repairing of cells. Miniscule devices and robots are constructed and enter the body to facilitate various operations (Patil, Mehta & Guvva, 2008). This is possible because they can distinguish molecules of particular body cells from another using nanotechnology. Damaged heart tissues can be repaired using can also be used in the treatment of other heart diseases like unclogging cholesterol-filled arteries. It has also enabled a first bone repair technique by use of polymer scaffolds with stem cells.

Nanotechnology is an important method in efficient drug delivery (Shrivastava & Dash, 2009, p. 4). Convectional delivery systems of drugs are manual and prone to human error, like in the case of oral and injections of drugs. Nanotech can improve existing methods since medicine need to be consumed in time. Drug delivery methods can be customized to make it effective for patients. Nanovehcles are the tools used in delivery of drugs they include microneedle-based transdermal therapeutic systems, microchips, layer by layer grouped systems, etc.

Infection control

Bacterial antibiotic resistance is on the rise since; when medical is devices plugged in the body it becomes hard for it to completely clear the antibiotic resistant bio film infections (Bhattachary, Stockley & Hunter, 2008). Researchers are coming up with a direction of using nanomaterials which may prevent potential bacteria that lead to infections. Devices used for medicine can have frequent infections like the central intravenous catheters (CVCs) can cause in bloodstream infections (BSI). The cost of BSIs infection which is high adds up to the already expensive costs of using CVCs. Implanted devices are also susceptible to infections; this is likely to result to failure of the implants (Shrivastava & Dash, 2009, p. 8). A variety of nanomaterials are under study for emergent of antimicrobial properties. The use of colloidal silver to minimize infections has been a success against the infections of antibiotic-resistant organisms and other MRSAs. Metal oxide nanoparticles are being studied for their antimicrobial components, which could be improved or exist in case the materials are in size of the nanometer to its surface area. Zink oxide nanoparticle should be further studied for pathogen resistance. Fungi are also tolerating treatments on antibiotic either by genetic tolerance or biofilm. Candida albicans human pathogen being the most common, by use of nanoparticles is becoming rampant.Nanomaterials can be used on surface as components or direct as sensors of iron, carbon, gold, and zinc oxide nanoparticles. Nanoparticles can also be tailored for specific applications by surface conjugation. This process enables nanoparticles delivery of drugs to the infection site through interacting, selectively targeting the bacteria and biofilm. Gold coated with vancomycin has indicated antibiotic fighting abilities and can overcome vancomycin resistant bacteria. Using nanoparticles selectively to an infection site minimizes infection and exposure to non-pathogenic bacterial flora. Viral nanoparticle, cowpea chlorotic mottle virus (CCMV) enables chemical targeting which is highly precise hence requires epitope identification in the bacterial biofilm.

Drug Discovery

Development of new drugs using nanoparticles is aimed at improving quality of life (Bhattachary, Stockley & Hunter, 2008, p. 27). Drugs like anticancer medicines have led to longer life span of patients, reduced side effects of these drugs and reduced expenses especially inpatient expenses. Unique properties of these nanoparticles are very useful in drug discovery. Semiconductor quantum dots are being used in vitro imaging of cells which are pre-labeled, in various research including cancer metastasis, embryogenesis, lymphocyte immunology and stem-cell therapeutics. As stated above due to their unique characteristics quantum dots are now widely considered in vivo applications. Though it brings about questions in its bio toxicity, it has been broadly investigated and reported that surface oxidation can happen when combined with aqueous/ultra violet-light excitation.

Regenerative medicine

According to Patil, Mehta & Guvva (2008) nanoparticles seek to restore living tissue which has either been lost or damaged. This has only been made possible through the interaction in advances of stem cell therapy, bio-engineering and nanotechnology. Most nanofibers that have been utilized in regenerative medicine have undergone electrospinning production technique. This method allows a degree of control in the properties of constituent nanofiber sheets and can be used on a wide range of natural and synthetic fibred materials.Nanofibres made from peptides has showed to be effective in regenerative medicine. This can be used with specific terminals to increase capabilities like receptor binding in hormones growth.

In tissue engineering the specific nanofiber scaffold depend on the type of tissue that is being regrown (Patil, Mehta & Guvva, 2008). In the cardiac tissue researchers have realized that the functionalized nanofibers aid in treatment of ischaemic heart diseases. Stem cells that are in the nanofiber are used to regenerate the complex solid bone structure. Silk or collagen based scaffolds are developed as alternatives in natural repairs of the cornea. Researchers have found that scaffolds of polymer nanofibers have enabled prevention of scars in spinal injuries that can destroy the coordination in the spinal cord caused by damages.


There is a vast benefit in the dental field involving nanotechnology such include new techniques for prevention by using dentifires which are either antimicrobial or consists of some restorative qualities for the enamel and dentine (Patil, Mehta & Guvva, 2008). Growing interest in the use of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) either being used as a nanomedicine or in clinical dentistry. ENMs can be used to strengthen dentine or regeneration of pulp cavity. They are also involved as antibacterial that control infection .ENMs can be used as nanofilers to improve the mechanical and the bioactive function, to restore materials and coating on dental implants. Some products have also been made available for oral health applications that involve dentifrices. Saliva flow rate and quality influence the behavior in the oral cavity of the ENMS, and how bioavailability will be altered and how it interacts with proteins as well as microbes in the biofilm still is not clear. Administer oral anesthesia by instilling colloidal suspension with millions of analgesic dental nanorobots on the patient’s tooth repair, nanorobotics involved in replacement of both mineral and cellular components of teeth will be available with time through affordable desktop manufacturing plants which are capable of fabricating new teeth available to dentists (Patil, Mehta & Guvva, 2008). Nanorobots can help treat dental hypersensitivity. The nanorobots provide a fast and permanent treatment to patients due to their dental reconstructive abilities using native biological materials. According to Patil, Mehta & Guvva (2008) nanorobots further facilitated tooth positioning, enabling of tooth straightening, rotating and repositioning which is quick and without pain by use of orthodontic nanorobots.


Treating a disease like cancer requires therapy to be adapted to the patients’ specific biomolecules (Roszek, de Jong & Geertsma, 2005, p. 82). So personalized medicine comes in handy it gains to understand treating and diagnosis of the exact disorder basing on the specific diagnosis. Using nanoparticles the identification of biomarker and drug delivery is simplified. Treatment is based on biomarker distribution due to the application of nanotheranostics to noninvasively target image. According to Roszek, de Jong & Geertsma (2005, p. 82) personalized medicine in future will be compelling in discovering biomedicine, mostly cancer theranostics. Personalized medicine is more efficient as it seeks to improve quality of health as it is tailored to meet the patients need. Diagnosis has been proved to differ based on genes, proteins and metabolites among patients. The combined efforts of diagnostic imaging and therapy fits in personalized medicine .this combination of molecular imaging and molecular therapy could be applied in many aspects le early disease detection, disease staging, therapy selection, and planning for follow up on disease (Roszek, de Jong & Geertsma, 2005, p. 82). Using particles in ananoscale levels provides a lot of advantage in diagnostic and treatment as both nanosensor and nanomedicine, respectively can measure a variety of biomarkers in a tiny sample and a nanomedicine ca deliver medicine in higher doses with lower side effects through active targeting.

Biological risks

Pulmonary effects

Due to the extreme microscopic nature of nanoparticles, they cause various pathologies to the respiratory system. According to Fakruddin et al (2012, p. 6), the installation of carbon nanotube within the tracheal system of mice resulted in varied lung diseases for instance epitheloid granuloma, interstitial inflammation, necrosis of lung, and peribronchial inflammation. The level of production of toxic material was found out to be greater in carbon nanotube compared to carbon black and quartz. Carbon nanotube therefore is a risk to the biological well being of all animals.

Nanomaterials can get into the human body through various entry points. During the production of nano materials individuals can accidentally inhale them thus they accidently get into the body through the lungs (Li et al 2007, p 377). From the lungs a fast translocation often occurs to other important organs via the bloodstream. Nanoparticles have the property of acting like a gene vector on the cellular level. These nanoparticles can penetrate to the central nervous system directly through systemic circulation, axons or olfactory bulb.

According to Fakruddin et al (2012, p. 6) experiments performed on primates and rodents provided enough evidence on accumulation of carbon and manganese nanoparticles within olfactory bulb. There is storage that takes place in the olfactory pathway. The accumulation of the manganese and carbon nanoparticles within the olfactory bulb provides evidence on nanoparticle-mediation delivery has the potential to provide an alternate route and method for circumventing the blood brain barrier (Fakruddin et al, 2012, p. 6). However it could result to inflammatory response in the brain hence needs evaluation.

Nanotubes pro-aggregatory effects on platelets have been observed in vitro researches reporting severe increase on vascular thrombosis in rodents. The observation where fullerenes lack the platelet inducing property of on aggression was made. Fullerenes might be the safer approach when compared to nanotubes in designing nanoparticle-based drug delivery system (Fakruddin et al, 2012, p. 6).

Nanoparticles also affect the gastrointestinal system leading to bowel inflammatory pathologies. The nanoparticles toxicity relates with its starting ability to release the pro-inflammatory mediators which results to organ damage and inflammatory response (Surendiran et al., 2009, p.689). Nanoparticles ingestion reaches circulation thus inducing contact with various organs which results in toxicity. Studies have been done in vitro and in animal models. Effects on the human system become cumbersome to extrapolate from these studies.

Subsequently, cell activation by particle-induced processes in airways always results in inflammatory response. Cell in the epithelium and reactive oxygen species from the blood in the airways are among the responses exhibited. Nerve and epithelial cells contributed to the airway inflammation by producing pharmacologically active elements for instance capsace (Borm & Kreyling, 2004 p. 4). In neurogenic inflammation, nerve endings were stimulated releasing neurotransmitter which affects many types of white blood cells present in the lungs. Epithelial and smooth muscle cells were also affected.

Possible implication of damage on the airways contributes more to an individual becoming exposed to infections of the respiratory system on exposure to bacteria or virus (Li et al 2007, p 377). Nanoparticles also lead to a decreased respiratory functioning in an individual whose airways were already damaged by other pathologies. A person whose airways were damaged prior to coming in contact with nanoparticles may end up suffering severe damages. Symptoms of diseases such as asthma may become exacerbated.

Systemic effects

Existing patients with cardiovascular complications face a higher risk of death on increasing ambient levels of nanopartclar presence. Nanoparticles distribution across the lungs towards the effector organs by circulation was regarded an important and direct pathway for the systemic nanoparticle effect after inhalation. More than 50% of nanoparticles were observed to be transmitted towards the liver. It was within 24 hours in the rat model Borm & Kreyling (2004 p. 6). Other experiments involving a rat only observed one minute translocation time. The nanoparticles did not only reach the blood of the rats but also the spleen, kidneys, heart, and brain. However the importance of surface properties for instance charges owing to the fact that polar surface properties yielded different translocations rates. Further studies confirmed the vitality of surface components. These surface properties bind to apoereceptor that mediates crossing of the barrier. Nanoparticles interfere with the transport for macromolecules within caveolae having molecular radii of various nanometers. The existence of alveolar-capillary barrier acts as a pathway for protein delivery to blood from the lungs.

Nanoparticles affect the movement toward the extra-pulmonary organs through the neurons including the trans-synaptic transport. Nanoparticles containing carbon translocates along this specific pathway and to the central nervous system which bases on nanoparticles presence in olfactory bulb of rodents after inhalation (Borm & Kreyling, 2004, p. 7).

Indirect effects

Individuals exposed to nanoparticles were found out to invoke inflammation of the alveolar. The discharge of inflammatory radiators starts up a systemic hypercoagulability of blood thus increasing the cardiovascular events risk (Yacobi et al., 2011, p. 65). Nanoparticles destabilize the automatic balance leading to direct effect on the heart and vascular function. The nanoparticles transportation through the axial nerve endings to the brain affects the central nervous system function. After exposure to nanoparticles effects are discovered in small and large arteries. The inhalation of nanoparticles destabilizes the atheromatous plaques. Nanoparticles properties invoke destabilization mechanisms.

Recent studies in Germany have singled out nanoparticles as significant variables in explaining the cardiac deaths due to the exaggerated exposure of ambient particle. The association appears to increase with the reduction of particle size and people having cardio-vascular pathologies found to be at a greater risk of death than others. Other epidemiological studies show that the increased ambient pollution exposure is associated with the beginning of a myocardial infarction (Borm et al., 2006). The cardiac autonomic function and rhythm also increases. Moreover in the model of hyperlipidaemic rabbit, exposure to the particles inhaled led to atherosclerotic plaque morphology that ruptured. On deposition site, nanoproteins interact with the endogenous proteins. Formation of complexities with endogenous could be an occurrence because nanoparticles below 40nm have a size similar to large proteins. Different endogenous proteins may be complicated depending on the particles properties (Borm & Kreyling (2004 p. 8). Various particles protein complexes have different biokinetics with the inclusion of translocations across membranes. Depending on the complexities, endogenous proteins end up having varied and even different functions. Earlier studies with the use of ultrafine particles indicated distinct numbers of proteins binding in native rat fluid on broncho-alveolar. These preliminary studies explain different observations on translocation patterns described. Through functional changes mechanisms by which mostly tiny nanoparticles with large surface area as the binding interface satisfy explanation. Functional changes, result to pathogenesis and severe health effects (Borm & Kreyling, 2004 p. 8).

Environmental application


The release of nanoparticles into the atmosphere moves the particles from an area of higher to low concentration areas thus inhalation by animals. The particles move through diffusion. The air currents carry nanoparticles very fast to moving long distances from their original source. However nanopaticles have a tendency to aggregate into bigger structures through the process of agglomeration (Pinson, 2004). Being able to detect nanoparticles in the air becomes extremely difficult with the naked eye. Simple measurement of size distribution can rarely distinguish the nanoparticles from natural particles. After the exposure into the air, human beings and animals inhale the contents of the air (Mehta et al., 2009). Those at risk of exposure include those who live around industrial areas and near roads. The inhaled nanoparticles go directly to the lungs causing diseases. The particles initiate inflammatory responses in the lungs. Further research indicate that exposure to ambient air pollution do not only affect the lungs but also pathologies of the cardiovascular system understanding the hazards of nanomaterials (2016 p. 2).

Nanoparticles that are distributed in water act just like colloids. Synthetic nanomaterials that enter the natural water bodies bind themselves to the water bodies. The manners in which such nanomaterials behave however depend on the factors for instance, the water Ph, salinity and the amount of presence of organic material (Klaine et al., 2008). Depending on the presence of organic material, the nanoparticles may decompose. The decomposition alters the particles size and shape. Naturally an organic material, such as humic acid acid stabilizes certain carbon nanotubes in the water and thus prevents the particles settlement. Human being and animals that come in contact the water containing nanoparticles become infected.

Soil and sediments

Nanomaterials in the soil bind themselves to solids. Whether the nanomaterial binds to the soil or not greatly affects the potential toxicity. Though, the risk of exposure in soil becomes lower compared to water and air due to the fact that silver icons could bind to components in the soil (Klaine et al., 2008). Due to the extremely low organic material in soil to decompose the nanomaterial the rate of infection by soil and sediments for nanoparticles become low.


The rates at which nanoparticles’ pose a risk do not depend on the toxicity alone but the amount of exposure too. The amount released into the environment determines the amount of risk. Only estimates of the amount of nanomaterial produced are available (De Jong & Borm, 2008). The actual number remains unknown leading to question on the amount of research carried out. Nanosilver in the form of particles as well as ions depicts the largest form that nanomaterial takes. When textiles were washed, nanoparticles get released to the environment. The rate of release was dependent largely on the production process. The most likely entry points of nanomaterials into the environment largely remained to be the sewerage system. Wastes with nanomaterials arose during the productionof the raw material, the manufacture of nanomaterial, and as well as the finished product (Buzea, Blandino & Robbie, 2007). So the exposure occurs during the entire production process to consumption. The assumption that nanoparticles were effectively removed during filtration did not hold up. About 90% of the nanosilver was removed during waste water in sewage treatment plants which may later spread to field as fertilizer (De Jong & Borm, 2008). The nanomaterials then enter the environment and cause damage to humans and animals.

Nanotechnology in cosmetics

In cosmetics, nanoparticles can enter the body by penetrating the skin. Flexed skin gives the nanoparticles even a higher risk of infection. The presence of acne, eczema, and wounds leads to an enhanced nanoparticles absorption in the blood stream. Even flexing and massage could lead to increased skin penetration. One study notes that even particles to up to 1000nm in size penetrated the skin Raj, Jose, Sumod & Sabitha (2016 p. 4). Further preliminary studies found that a penetration of nanoparticle was deeper in the skin affected psoriasis than in skin that was not affected at all. Workers in cosmetics industries become exposed to these risks just by mere association with such environments. Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles preferred for sunscreens can damage or kill brain cells of mice. Toxicity of zinc oxide nanoparticle was as a result of the effect of dissolved zinc ions within the cells. Nanofillaments of titanium dioxide were found cytotoxic enhanced as a result of present defects on nanopaticles surface. Due to chemical treatment, alterations in cell morphology and nanofilant internalization were noted. Since industries are full of human employees, they suffer more as they are greatly exposed to these risks. Workers may be unintentionally exposed to the nanomaterials during production processes or disposal, recycling, and use of these particular products. Employees experience exposure during the cleaning and maintenance research, production and handling of facilities. According to Raj, Jose, Sumod & Sabitha (2016 p. 5), due to the increase in the consumption of nanomaterials, there would be an increased need in the production rate. Increase in production rates means more work for workers resulting in workers and consumers increased exposure.

Nanomaterials risks in commercialized products.

Through commercialized nanomaterials new generations of toxic materials get into the market. Many nanomaterials have a decreased particle size leading to the production of free radicals increase (Buzea, Blandino, & Robbie, 2007). The toxicity levels due to small particle size also increases. Studies conducted through test tube reveal that nanomaterial now in commercial use damages the human DNA. The commercialized nanomaterials also negatively affect cellular fuctions and even lead to cells death. However small, recent studies which are growing in nature have shown that nanomaterials are toxic to generally used environmental indicators such as algae, invertebrate and fish species. Evidence has showed that nanomaterials could damage the reproductive cycles of earthworms (Buzea, Blandino, & Robbie, 2007). Earthworms play a vital role nutrient cycling that underpins ecological functioning. When human being comes into contact with these worms the risk of infection becomes high and severe. In the recent times, perturbing new evidence showed that nanomaterials could be carried across generations in both animals and plants (De Jong, & Borm, 2008). Generally nanomaterials pose risks to the environment through the various commercialized products that come into the market today. Despite the fact that nanomaterials are viewed as a solution to producing cheaper and efficient products, the risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals escalates. Even if used in limited lesser than conventional chemicals, nanomaterials carry a greater toxicological encumbrance. Continued use of nanoparticles to manufacture products increases the risk of exposure. The use of nanotechnology in big industries increases every day. It means that more commercialized products containing nanomaterials multiply rapidly in the market. Consumers of such products may suffer from different pathologies as a result of consumption of nanoparticles. Increased use leads to increased spread of the particles in the environment. Studies do not show the exact scale of risks posed by nanoparticles for now but continued use and exposure may lead to escalated risks to the environment.


Privacy invasion

Nanotechnology could leads to the development of surveillance devices with minimal detection. These devices could be used to spy on governments, corporations and private citizens. The use of nanotechnology in engineering leads to development of undetectable weapons that could end up in hand of people like terrorists, thieves, and private citizens with a bad intention. Some people end up misusing such technology. According to Besley, Kramer & Priest (2008) the privacy of individuals would be at risk. The development of such devices could spark regional wars due to their ability to spy a large geographical area at the same time. For instance, if Australia realizes that the United States has been spying on its citizens using nanotechnology then war could ensue between the two countries. With the development of nanotechnology in the engineering field, the right to privacy may be interfered with leading to conflicts.

Nanotechnology in electrical goods

According to Tolle et al. (2007 p. 22), the development of quantum computers which use mechanical effects available at nanoscale could fall into the hands of people who misuse it for instance hackers, terrorists, and electronic thieves. Quantum computers give new ways of performing computer operations at a faster speed. Basically, all computing tasks performed in a sequence with a standard computer were done all at once using a quantum computer. The quantum computer dramatically increases the speed of databases which slow down businesses. The immense computing power of a quantum computer could be the risk. Internet crime and loss of internet material would increase (Tolle et al., 2007 p. 22). More computers would be vulnerable to exposure to problems of viruses and loss of information to hackers. Eventually the burden would be passes to the insurer of the quantum computers.

Nanotech weapons

Weapons made with nanotechnology could be smaller than the standard size weapons. For instance, a gun would be developed with a very small stature. The weapon could be smaller than an insect but with the intelligence of a supercomputer. These types of weapons could turn out to be extremely dangerous (Pinson, 2004). Imagine an insect flying around yet it has the intelligence of a computer. The world would be more dangerous than ever with the existence of such weapons. Terrorists would use nanotech to develop super small bombs yet very powerful. Due to the fact that these weapons are not detectable passing through security channels would not be a problem. Exposure to risk for the whole world would increase.

Nanotech robots

Wide ranging self-multiplying robots may soon surface. These robots would consume all living matter. The technology of nano-electrical mechanisms utilizes nano-sized machines to perform simple tasks. Nano-sized machines reflect the closest form of nanotech robots. Nano-electrical mechanisms could produce nano-sized motors and sensors (Tolle et al., 2007, p. 22). The robots developed with the knowledge of nanotechnology could possible wipe out the entire human race. These robots pose a great risk to the entire population. The robots would have resulted from electrical engineering. Possible nano and biotechnological arms race could occur. Development of robots could lead to their deployment during war. Not all countries in world could possible afford such technological advancement resulting in suppression of other countries.

Nanotechnology in construction

Nanoscale materials used in the making of cement could prove to have related risks. Nanoparticles improve the performance of cement. Use of nano- SiO2 could greatly increase the compressive nature of concrete. The risk factor come in the process of use of the cement made from nanoparticles (Tolle et al., 2007, p. 22). The dispersion of amorphous nanosilica used to improve segregation could affect the workers as they dispatch the cement. Cement containing nanoparticles when dispatched to various construction sites, engineers come into contact with the nanoparticles. The particles have adverse effects in the life of the engineers (Tolle et al., 2007, p. 22). Lack of proper care and maintenance could result in pathologies associated with nanoparticles.

Carbon nanotubes in civil engineering

Carbon nanotubes have a variety of uses in civil engineering especially for ground improvement, water cleaning, and air purification. The use of nanotubes associates with some risks. A number of studies in laboratories have been carried out. Based on the available data, some conclusions for instance, carbon nanotubes that look like asbestos can cause asbestos related infections in humans (Khitab & Anwar, 2016, p.260). When inhaled, the asbestos may cause pathologies such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. With the application of nanotechnology to develop products such as solar panels, construction materials, medical devices, plastics, and batteries the probability of these materials entering the markets becomes certain. Furthermore, according to Khitab & Anwar (2016, p.260), it was found that single walled nanotubes could cause interstitial inflammation in rats. Multi-walled carbon nanotubes showed toxicity in rats and lead to significant inflammation and damage to the tissues. Research on the toxicological impacts of C60 fullereness show that carbon nanotubes materials tend to induce oxidative stress in living human beings. The risks are revolutionary in nature making conclusive statements hard to make.

Lubricants, paint, and coatings

The increased presence of nanoparticles in lubricants, paints, and coatings leads to an escalated risk of exposure. The nanoparticles take the form of zinc oxide. The damaging effects of zinc oxides have been studied (Buzea, Blandino & Robbie, 2007). After exposure for a certain period of time, the individuals exhibited sign of sore throat, headache, chills, and fever. One particular study on mice concluded that environmental exposure to nanoparticles causes lung inflammatory response. Through lubricant and paints used in engineering, increased risks to the exposure of nanoparticles occur. Studies also found that zinc oxide found in coatings due to engineering caused severe symptoms of lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death in mice. Tests have proved the potential of lubricants, paints, and coatings due to the presence of nanoparticles in them. Because of passage of time and wreathing, the coatings, lubricants, and paint peel off from the surfaces applied (Buzea, Blandino & Robbie, 2007). Probability of nanoparticles an increased risk then automatically occurs because these materials enter the environment eventually. When human beings come into contact with such materials, pathologies occur. Lubricants, paints, and coatings developed with nanotechnology could be the cheapest in the market. Consumers buy the cheapest but reliable products available. Products made with nanotechnology would be readily available for consumption in the market. The rate of spread would be relatively high. Because of the cheap nature, engineers would always use these products. The environment would be filled with coating, paint, and lubricant wastes. Risk would be escalated. Buildings, plastics, and even machines would be painted, coated or lubricated with nanopartcles. The spread would virtually be everywhere leading to high risks of infection.

Renewable resource

Exposure to nanomaterials in the renewable energy sector begins at the earliest stage of conducting discovery research. Since the field of renewable resource using nanomaterials have not adequately been carried out, further research to develop the field goes on. Workers in start upand manufacturing companies for renewable resources would be affected first. While conducting research in laboratories, the workers become exposed to nanoparticles. The workers who design, synthesize, and test the viability of renewable energy before release come into contact with the toxic nanoparticles. The workers are exposed during several phases for instance during handling of nano-powders, mixing nanoliquid solutions, cleaning equipment, and packaging and transport of dry powder. Nanomaterials have a variable composition, morphology, and purity (Holder et al., 2013). Their developing methods of production, dynamic behavior once dispersed in the work place, and the large parameters needed to complete characterization make nanomaterial exposure unavoidable. To always measure, monitor, and characterize nanomaterial becomes extremely difficult. For renewable resource, the risk starts right at the inception stage of the renewable nano-products.

The potential of exposure increases during the disposal stage of nano-renewable resource. Disposal procedures for products containing nanomaterials may be different from the normal waste management method. The exposure at the waste disposal stage affects both the workers and the environment as a whole (Musee, 2010). The risk at disposal stage becomes wide because the environment gets involved. Laboratories and industries disposed products containing nanomaterials. The new forms of waste could prove to be a challenge to the current waste management. For renewable resource, the waste from nanoparticles may not be renewable hence posing risk to the environment (Musee, 2010). The general public would be at risk of absorbing nanomaterials into their systems. Wastes containing nanoparticles were toxic to human beings.

Nano-enabled solar cells

Nano-enabled solar cells rely on lower-cost organic substances to convert solar energy. Some examples of nano-enabled solar cells include die sesnsitizedsoalr cells using dye molecules. The dye molecules absorb sunlight over a titanium oxide nanoparticles scaffold (Shapira & Youtie, 2012). The use of sulfide based copper zinc tin solar cells tables another approach that uses nanotechnology which could be highly toxic in regard to photovoltaic solar power generation. Limiting factor entails the need to produce efficient material. The nano-enabled solar cells emit nanoparticles when heated by the sun. The released nanoparticles in the air directly affect human beings. These nano-enabled solar cells could get danaged at some point. When spoilt, the other risk involves the disposal procedure. In most cases the disposed solar cells end up in the environment causing infection to man.


Nanogenerators rely on piezoelectric substances like zinc oxide nanowires aiming to facilitate the transfer of human activities to energy use. Stacking of millions substances of nanogenerators on polymer chips facilitate the generation of energy equivalent of AA batteries (Shapira & Youtie (2012, p. 7). Examples include wearable devices, implantable energy, and self powered sensors receivers. The presence of nanoparticles in the form of zinc oxide poses a risk to any individuals exposed to nanogenerators. Wearable devices and self powered sensors made from nanogenerators increase the chance of spying on other people without detection. Risks such as easy breach of security become a reality. In the event of damage, the risk of exposure becomes high. The users of such material are vulnerable to diseases caused by nanoparticles. The handling of nanogenerators could only be possible with some level of expertise without the expertise risk also increases.

Thermal energy

The application of nanotechnology in thermal energy does not only involve an improvement in sources of energy but insulation as well. Often, nanoparticles coating is used on glass to provide UV protection, water resistance, and self maintaining services. Vacuum insulation was among major uses of nanoparticle fumed and nanoporous aerogel silica. Nanoparticles used in insulation pose a threat to the environment (Shapira & Youtie, 2012, p. 8). Nanoparticles use in insulation may have benefits but in the end risks could be higher. The uses of nanomaterial which have been demonstrated to have negative impacts on the health of human beings become dangerous. Coatings may fall off the surface of material due to rusting process. When these material fall off, the surrounding environment becomes exposed. Exposure leads to risk of contaminating pathologies caused by nanoparticles.

During the process of production of fuel catalysts, nanoparticles play a key role in refinement, fuels production, and automobile reduction. During the process of removing wax, high silica and porous zeolites play the key role of supporting catalytic converters. The removal of hydrogen and sulfur in a mixture fuel from methanol or diesel sources was aided by molybdenum disulfide as well as copper-zinc oxide particles (Shapira & Youtie, 2012, p. 8). The future of platform on biofuel processing and energy conversion relies on the long-run nanotechnology application. However, the future may not be as bright as expected. Continued application of copper-zinc oxide fills the environment with toxic materials. Fuels converted using copper-zinc oxide may spill like any normal spillages and cause great damages to the environment. Considering the fact that these fuels would be containing nanoparticles in them would mean disaster. Soot and smoke coming from vehicles that consume copper-zinc oxide may pollute the environment on a large scale. The risk of exposure to nanopollutants would rise rapidly. Air, water and even soil would be polluted culminating in the increase of diseases caused by nanoparticles exposure to the environment.

According to Shapira & Youtie (2012, p. 8), storage of energy can be simply viewed from an angle nanotechnology improvement to the existing battering. The challenging part involves the use of nanoparticles. Most of the current batteries prefer lithium-ion technologies. Nanoparticles can offer improvements like quick re-charging capability and long life on the shelves. Research conducted showed that electrolyte properties of batteries can be thinly cushioned with nanotube ink leading to the production of batteries that can be consumed with products which are disposable. The application of nanoparticles in the production of batteries becomes a challenge looking at the nature of battery disposal. Poor waste disposal systems would lead to the toxic nanoparticles getting a way into the environment. Once in the human surrounding, the waste could spread rapidly to other environment as a result affecting a larger group of people. The more the batteries produced the higher the risk of exposure to the general environment. So to say that doing away with lithium batteries and replacing them with those made from nanoparticles do not satisfy full sense.

Renewable could be enhanced with the use of nanotechnology. However, risks outweigh the benefits in most instances. Nanosolar cell, thermal energy production and usage in the manufacture of battery cells all culminate into risks. The bigger risk comes in the form of the type of chemical used in the manufacturing process (Shapira & Youtie, 2012, p. 8). The application of nanoparticles has been found out to be toxic to the human health. In mice and rats’ nanoparticles have been found to even cause death at extreme levels. Generally, in renewable resources nanotechnology would lead to the production of toxic material. The risk of exposure would escalate with the amount of products put and the level of waste disposal management.

Importance of Understanding the Risks involved in Nanotechnology

As much as nanotechnology is revolutionary, powerful, transformative, beneficiary in terms of efficiency and less-time consuming production, it can be potentially very dangerous to humans. The risks associated in the processes of application fall under biological, engineering, renewable resource and environmental applications, and it is important to know and understand these individual risks for the benefits of humans in terms of safety. Some of the risks include high energy level requirements for the synthesis of nanoparticles hence causing high demand for energy. And thus toxic dissemination of nano-substances in the environment and in living organisms, and also lower recovery and recycling rates.

The usage of nanoparticles in food that is consumed by humans may pose health risks after ingestion as some scientists claim that some nanoparticles could cross cell walls and damage cells. It is therefore very important for food processing industries to assess the types of nanomaterials they use in food stuff and cease using those that may be harmful to humans (European Food Safety Authority, 2011). This should follow numerous studies conducted on nanoparticles intended to be used in food, and secluding the harmful ones from any of the food manufacturing processes. Information on the risks involved in some nanomaterials used in food processing would also help governments, through their health departments and environmental agencies to formulate Food Acts that would regulate the usage of nanomolecules by food processing companies. The risks prompt governments, most of which have regulatory frameworks that were created years ago before the impacts of nanotechnology were anticipated, to amend the laws in order to protect the citizens from harmful nanotechnology applications in food. Analysis of the risks allows the concerned government bodies to engage the public, commercial, regulatory, and scientific personnel to foster the development of scientifically safe public policy and sustainable business activities in nanotechnology (Zhang et al 2014). This includes developing quantitative ways of measuring nanomaterials that food processing firms intend to use in their food manufacture.

Another importance of understanding the risks brought about by nanotechnology is that scientists would be able to understand the extent to which they affect the human body in terms of the normal biological development processes. They would have an insight on precisely which body organs are affected by the nanomolecules and sort for better use of the molecules, or solutions for the problem. Different nanoparticles have different effects on individual body parts, thus it is important to understand the risks posed by particular nanomaterials in order to regulate on their usage or totally avoid using them for risk mitigating. Different risks identified and studied by a wide range of researchers can then be shared across the continent for better analysis and common recommendations to address the possible solutions for the risks. This allows for a constant update for all scientists on their risk assessment methodologies to create a multidisciplinary approach including industry and different scientists from separate fields be it physics, biological or chemistry (Zhang, et al 2011).

Moreover, assessment and understanding the risks that come with nanotechnology allowed scientists to do research and amass adequate information on the nanomaterials way before their introduction into the environment for human and animal interaction. This nanotechnology risk-assessment paved way for a new, emerging area with a lot of knowledge as far as environmental health issues that the new invention would bring about (Zhang, et al 2011). Importantly, nanotechnology does not involve only a segregated sector, but touches numerous sectors and multiple products, thus the importance to involve all parties in the research including governments, colleges, universities, industries, NGOs and also allowing the public to comment on their views concerning the risks of nanotechnology.

The risks to which nanomaterials expose humans to should be studied to identify the organisms in the ecosystem that are exposed and at risk of coming into harmful contact with the molecules. For instance, people and animals within the environment where nanomolecules are predominantly used would be focused on as far as preventive measures against the harmful substances are concerned. This means that risk assessment on particular nanomolecules should be relative to those likely to be exposed to them (Zhang, et al 2011). Production industries that often use nanomaterials have their employees exposed to possible toxicological materials which through the skin or inhalation may gain access to the body by getting in contact with the molecules (Zhang et al 2014). Understanding such risks would prompt various safety and protective measures to ensure a healthy environment for workers in industries that depend on nanomaterials for their production activities. Assessment on the safety practices should be thorough because different nanomaterials vary in their complexity and reaction to other objects, thus their permeability through safety materials should also be analysed.

Risk assessment and understanding of nanomaterials also provides important information on their severity in terms of multiplication and their rates of mutation to determine their impacts on the development of the body, possible effects on reproduction or survival at environmentally plausible concentrations (Li et al., 2014). Differences in uptake, distribution or the rates of elimination of the molecules from the body help in understanding the risks posed by different nanomaterials. By establishing such facts, it would be possible to find solutions on how to handle nanomolecules at different levels of exposure and to specific groups of people in specific stages of growth (Li et al., 2014). For instance, the use of nanomaterials on military garments and products to make tasks lighter and less risky, which end up rubbing against the skin and into the body, then excreted in different ways into the environment and taken up by plants into the food chain. It is for that reason that the importance of analysing these risks and the cycle it creates should be comprehensive to alleviate the health risks and damages they bring about (Li et al., 2014).

Studying the risks caused by nanomolecules may give a deeper understanding on their absorption, penetration, accumulation and distribution in the body, in particular the usage of cosmetics on the skin that may influence the skin penetration of other of further constituents. Some body lotions and creams may have negative effects on the pores of the skin, and damaged skin poses a risk for harmful products from penetrating through (Maynard, 2006). This necessitates the valuation of the Nano chemicals used in the cosmetics to determine whether they comprise of harmful nanomaterials or expose individuals to harmful substances (Maynard, 2006). It will serve as an important tool for industries to use, by including important health information on the packaging of products to warn consumers on the dangers of over-exposure or constant contact with products such as aerosols. Since consumers are considered less-educated on the use of nanotechnology, manufacturers have the task to pass clear information and warning signs on their products on the use of nanomaterials on the products following their industrial research findings prior to manufacture (Maynard, 2006). With the risks associated with particular products, companies would be held liable in case of health conditions or sickness caused by harmful Nanoparticles contained in some of their products, thus it is also important for such companies to have their products standardised for consumer protection.

Almost everything that is manufactured ends up in the ground and somehow back to the food chain, including nanotechnology materials and products, thus it is highly important to evaluate the composition of nanomaterials in terms of their degradation, disintegration and aggregation (Stander & Theodore, 2011). This determines whether the material will be naturally broken down biologically and form part of humus in the soil, or retains its initial state thereby posing as a threat to the ecosystem. For the case of no-degradable materials, the threat is very evident for both animals and plants if buried in the soil, while on the other negative side, burning them as some people opt to results in harmful fumes that pollute the air, affects development of plants by choking the air and cause various respiratory infections for humans (Stander & Theodore, 2011). This shows that the initial stage in creating these nanomolecules is very vital in a bid to reverse all these negative impacts on the ecosystem, and calls for a thorough investigation on an intended nanomaterial’s risks before their actual production.

In some cases, some industries cannot avoid dumping wastes through sewerage systems or illegally dispose materials, including nanoparticles, into the environment during production processes. According to Emond, et al. (2011) one way or another, such companies should be made to understand the risks involved in their activities and how directly or indirectly it has negative effects on them and the people it serves. Research activities are required to clarify the release of nanomaterials to the environment during production, further processing, use and disposal. In light of the extent of risks caused by nanomaterials, information on their lifecycle and levels of exposure is important to determine which nanomaterials would better of be recycled than disposed (Emond, et al., 2011). Additionally, it is important to have adequate information on the risks brought about by nanotechnology for the purposes of developing measurement methods and new validated instruments for the measurement of particle mass and surface concentration, and also the size distribution in a variety of systems. Furthermore, nanomaterials intentionally released to the environment should be identified and their potential risks assessed in order to clarify their fate so that industries would determine which ones are safer to use and in which way would they have less negative impacts.

Agencies that are responsible for water and sewerage treatment find the information about the types of nanoparticles released into the environment very important in their analyses. They need to understand the physical and chemical features of these particles to assess their solubility in liquids to be able to evaluate the extent of damage they are capable of (Zhang et al., 2011). For instance, washing socks discharge nano-Ag and Ag+ into sewage materials, thus these agents should be put into consideration during purification of sewage water that is meant for human use and also used in fishponds (Zhang et al., 2011). Generally, understanding the routes which nanomaterials follow during disintegration into the environment, as well as absorption and excretion by organisms is important to determine the most efficient points at which the materials should be declared harmful. When developing sensors to detect and characterize nanomaterials for research, analysts need to determine the biological impacts of the materials, the evolutionary and ecological conditions on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems (Zhang et al., 2011). All factors that contribute to the rate of absorption bioaccumulation and biomagnification of nanomaterials and their by-products within the ecosystems are studied to help in reducing the effects of these environmental hazards by understanding the relationships therein (Roberts 2005). This would also help to predict interactions of nanomaterials within the environment and living organisms at all magnitudes, thereby paving way to install measures and reduce the effects.

Nanotechnology is bound to exist in the current and possibly the future world, therefore these risks they subject the world to should be evaluated in relation to the changing environment and the projected future effects of nanomaterials to organisms (Roberts 2005). This would educate and train future environmentalists and scientists on how well to use programs focused towards the understanding of the implications from nanomaterials for safety and environmental health. The cooperation of researchers and engineers in incorporating the findings from research would help in combating the negative impacts of these chemically and physically engineered substances. The studies that are carried out currently are only based on the nanomaterials that are used presently and with the existing environmental status, hence the importance to take into considerations future expectations based on the current findings (Roberts 2005). The risks posed by nanomaterials at the moment is important in the analyses on the future anticipations on environmental changes so that better approaches can be used and efficient methods of handling the materials be used, as far as health and safety is concerned.

Risk assessment on nanotechnology is important in communicating the diversity of the risks posed by nanomaterials. Scientists around the world doing research on the effects of nanotechnology all rely on the information shared across by different researchers on these effects, which is communicated to industries that deal with nanomaterials for the sake of implementation of safety measures. Risk assessments should be performed on nanomaterials, then communicated to all stakeholders, including health management authorities and also to the public in a transparent discourse (Li et al., 2014). This means that the risk-management concept, prior to the use of nanotechnology, should be available before production and use take place on a large scale. Industries, especially manufacturing firms that have to adopt to technological advances, depend on such information to ensure compliance with laws and regulations concerning nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is rapidly gaining popularity globally and is anticipated to even develop more in the future mostly in economical and industrial fields. Every industry in a way is trying to find use of nanotechnology in a bid to catch up with the changing business environment and the diversity of modern technology. Education and industry, including community universities and colleges, and public schools will require considerations in response to change in the workforce dynamics/composition. This will alter curriculum in order to match the changes in the community with more emphasis on technology, engineering and science fields (Zhang et al., 2011). Despite its importance in terms of efficiency in creation of products that are assumed to be lighter, cheaper, more durable or in light of the technology making production processes faster and cheaper, the dangers of using nanomaterials is adverse both on living organisms and the ecological and terrestrial environments. The rate at which nanotechnology is being adopted by industries around the world should match with the depth at which research studies are done on the impacts of the technology in different areas. This is particularly important in determining the long-term health effects, which is not clear yet from the current findings, in order to protect consumers from harmful effects of engineered materials (Zhang et al., 2011). More importantly so, nanomaterials used in food processing, including those that are used in modern packaging materials that may find their way into food, should be focused on (Lewenstein, 2005). Consumer protection should be on the forefront when dealing with the risks of using nanotechnology, thus stricter laws should govern the use of nanomaterials to avoid negligence by manufacturing industries in using them. More efforts are required during the synthesis and before commercialization phase in evaluation of results of the rigorous and systematic assessment since this could reduce health risks of individuals exposed to NPs significantly including the entire population and workers (Goldman & Coussens, 2005).

Possible solutions to the risks posed by nanotechnology

Safe design of nanomaterials

Nanomaterials have been a topic of the much wider class of natural and man-made particulate matter covering all sizes below 10 micronons. The health effects of nanomaterials have drawn much attention with the primary focus being on naturally occurring materials. Industrial pollutants and the more recent engineered material have been looked into. Pathologies caused by nanomaterials have been registered in the cardiovascular, respiratory, and the immunity system of human beings. The main cause of the diseases due to nanomaterials has been identified to be the oxidation of the particles and the contaminants thatattach to these materials. For the case of nanoparticles smaller than 100 nanometers, their small size and altered physical chemical properties were additional features that add to their potential to cause health effects. The small size nanoparticles were able to easily permeate cell membranes and distribute themselves in all parts of an organ. The nanoparticles then remain in the organ for an extended period of time. Nanomaterials with a small size may result in a changed physical chemical nature. Material which was harmless as a large particle could change and be harmful after alteration.

In engineered nanopaticles, specific human diseases and serious environmental impacts have not been established at a large scale. However, experimental evidence has showed potential risks of nanoparticles. Today, 6 base materials Au, Ag, ZnO, TiO2 silica, and carbon make more than 90% of manufactured nanoproducts. Within the next decade the expected number growth will be at 100,000 commercial products from the current 1,000. The increased number of engineered products in the market will transition nanotechnology from discovery phase to mature technology. The challenge will be that the mature nanotechnology would bring with it potential threat to the environment and associated health impacts of the materials themselves. New production technologies would pose an increased risk of exposure both to the workers and the environment. With the production of bulk industry scale quantities due to transitional methods, increased environmental and health hazards would be present. Products from nanomaterials and wastes would increase risk. The fate of new nanotechnology does not have to be hazardous to the environment and general public. In principle, possible methods following in the footsteps of green chemistry have to be adopted. It would ensure production of nanomaterials that satisfy safety standards. The design has to use methods that are safe to protect the environment, workers, and even the animals.

Nanomaterials produced should be made as safe as possible for plant, animal, and human life. To achieve the safety standard, the use of production methods that take into consideration the safety of works should be mandatory. The methods used in production must minimize waste streams by limiting the number of synthetic steps and reaction intermediates by incorporating a high percentage of the starting materials in the final product. The amount of nanomaterials used in production should be as minimal as possible. The main raw materials should form bulk of the product. In instances where function requires the use of unsafe components, nanomateriaks should be designed with the necessary properties. These materials should enable an efficient recovery and recycling at the end of the life-cycle of that particular product Robillard (2012 P. 8). The number one solution to the risks posed by nanotechnology would be safely design the materials themselves. During the production process, safety procedures have to be taken into consideration knowing the massive effects that nanomaterials could have. The producers of nanomaterial products have to be the first to ensure safety both during the production process, consumption of products, and waste disposal stage.

Safe handling nanomaterials

When handling nanomaterials, the safety of workers in the workplace has to be given top priority. With the guiding principle that materials with uncertain unknown risks for instance nanomaterials have to be regarded as extremely dangerous. Work that involves nanomaterials must be carried out in a manner that aims at preventing employees to potential exposure. Safety handling procedures have to be put in place by the production team. The presence of nanomaterials warrants exposure to risk hence care in handling has to be taken. The level of exposure follows a certain procedure that involves elimination, substitution, containment, and monitoring solutions. During the handling of the possible hazardous nanomaterials protective care has to be deployed at each particular stage to avoid continued contamination. Personal protective equipment that workers use has to be up to the required protective standards. Adequate care should be taken during the handling of nanomaterials by workers either in the laboratories or industries. When designing nanomaterials, maximum protective care has to be put in place to shield workers from potential infection.

For instance, the use of coated titanium dioxide nanomaterials in sun creams and deployment of carbon nanofibres help minimize the risks of exposure. The use of titanium dioxide and carbon nanofibres should be increased to other areas in the industry to help reduce worker exposure. The use of such application should be spread to many sectors to help secure the environment where workers become exposed. The safety of workers should be mandatory for any industry that uses nanoparticles. Exposure starts right from the inception stage of nanomaterials development. The workers become exposed from the initial development so to take their safety serious should be a priority.

Knowledge of the toxicological risks plays a major role in designing safe nanomaterials. Risk assessment should be based on a complete set of exposure and toxicity information. Data on the level of exposure by the employees is required to ascertain the level of risk of exposure. After the level of risk exposure is determined appropriate preventive measures can be put in place to deal with the risks. To adequately access risks with uncertain natures, dialogue between a large numbers of stakeholders needs to take place. Through collateral dialogue between different companies, insight knowledge will be gained. The knowledge acquired will be required by users and authorities. Accelerated innovation will then be enabled with a combined effort and responsible handling of the risks.

The biggest challenge when creating solutions for nanotechnology comes when dealing with the uncertain risks. Nanotechnology remains to be new in the face of many users. Due to the fact that nanotechnology remains current, a lot of research has not been carried out on the topic. For uncertain risks, stakeholders in the field of nanotechnology have to come together to and find a way forward. Industries, laboratories, and waste management companies have to come together for a collective benefit of safety. With all relevant stakeholders at a meeting point, safe design procedures have to be set. The focus has to remain the safety of nanotechnology and nanomaterials. A platform should be put in place through a board that coordinates and initiates the establishment of standards, rules and regulations, and mapping of the playing field. The primary focus of the platform should be safe design issues and setting up a roadmap for issues that prior to and after. Safe handling of materials should be priority for any industry players within the nanotechnology field. A set code of conduct that should be adhered to has to put in place to ensure the safety of workers and the environment from the hazards of nanomaterials.

Cooperative development

Competition between countries would arise during the nanotechnology transition period. Great national and global risks would be posed due to the technological advancement of nanotechnology. The best alternative to competition which would lead to serious threats would be cooperation. Cooperative development and unilateral dominance would be a viable solution. Many considerations point to cooperative development of nanotechnology to be less risky. The transformative nature of nanotechnology and the products associated with it from a military point of view will lead to unexpected consequences. In adversity, the risks may include a strategic instability and results which could be a threat to the global and national security. Considering the nanotechnology capabilities, considerations of nuclear arms should come to mind. Nanotechnology could be used to develop deadly nuclear arms. An in depth comparison with nuclear arms could lead to useful considerations. Both the nuclear field and nanotechnology involve technologies of great importance with a lot of risk involved.

Differently, development in nuclear technology has been well understood compared to nanotechnology. Large scale jobs require special resources and equipment to be productive in capacity which is employed in nuclear energy. The equipments then are used in making distinctive and well understood technology resulting in nuclear weapons. For a long period of time advances have been made in the nuclear development sector but nothing has come close to nanotechnology. The knowledge of nanotechnology requires strong collaborations because of the magnitude of potential risk possessed. Dialogue between the various stakeholders becomes important to effectively manage to control risk. Nanotechnology if left to the use of one particular nation or continent, then the risk of conflicts would rise to high levels culminating in high levels of exposure for a nation or even the globally.

Progress towards atomically precise manufacturing continues to grow along the nanotechnology path. The outcome could be expected or unexpected. New developments have used nanomaterials in a laboratory-scale environment to create new equipment. The results of nanotechnology development have become incremental. Developments that move towards a scalable technology on production are able to make large and wide range of unexplored commodities have been done. These advancements in the nanotechnology field have risky potential both in the military and non-military applications. In a risky manner, the characteristics of nanotechnology nuclear weapons create difficulties of predicting development paths and usage. Observing the progress of nano-nuclear materials and accessing the potential capabilities becomes a risk. Potential threats may surpass the expected levels leading to violence. For safety reasons, proceeding along with an individual and competitive path may appear to escalate risks. Considerations which are in favor of policies that leads to transparent, multilateral, extensive, laboratory-level and collaborative development appears to be the best mitigation strategy to minimize risks.

With strong multilateral collaborations, building a multilateral basis for confidence could easily be established. Understanding between states on the use of nanotechnology would make everyone feel safe about the use of these developments. Open and visible progress can reduce tensions which are created by outmoded material scarcity fears of the future. Countries should make their use of nanotechnology open to the whole globe to cool fears of attack. Through multilateral confidence and collaboration a working together basis could be established. Stability in economic and social development could be used to create trust among users of nanotechnology. It could help minimize risks of reckless use by some nations to harm others. Through multilateral collaborations, the nano-nuclear weapons could be prevented from falling in the hands of potentially dangerous people such as terrorists. The combination of global research in acceleration of the progress towards the clean, sustainable, and rapid development could provide solutions to risks posed by nanotechnology.

Embracing opportunities to minimize risks

Today nanotechnology includes many forms of atomically made fabrications. The application of nanotechnology ranges from medicine to advanced electronics. A wider view indicates that success in atomically and precise systems on engineering could open ways that may increase the level of threat. The advanced level of technology could provide a basis on the original nanotechnology promise as a resolution transformative in the technology of production. The future capabilities differ from conventional expectations. The potential of exposure to nanomaterials could be on the rise. To assume that disruptive and great raise in the nanotechnology ability to provide for the human needs and pose no risks would be totally naïve. With the benefits risks would also increase. Preparation for nanotechnological development of a large magnitude would require policies that begin to plan for the future. Reducing competition for available scarce resources may lower the rate of motivation for competition. Challenges of degradation of the environment, global poverty and climate change give motivation for growth of cooperation. The economic risk, social, and military disruption increases. Mitigation strategies that support deep, broad, and transparent international cooperation have to be embraced. Information on opportunities could be incorporated into national planning to minimize risks. Effective planning progress can possibly accelerate the solutions towards the risks of nanotechnology. The challenge of resolving the conflicts created by nanotechnology could lie in the opportunities. Nanotechnology creates a wide range of benefits so to use these benefits as a solution to the risks posed would be ideal. Studies in the field of engineering and medicine could be used to combat problems of nanomaterials spread in the environment.

Managing waste disposal

Residual waste already contains nanomaterials. The consumer products remains such as packaging and food contain nanomaterial from the industries. The regular domestic products sent for disposal also include unbound nanoparticles. For instance tubes containing residues of nanomaterial-based creams. Other kinds of wastes generated by industries that use nanotechnology may also contain nanomaterials. Most companies who apply nanotechnology collect their own waste. However, ultimately the wastes are disposed off with the ordinary waste because there were no special plans to dispose them. The quantities and types of nanomaterials present in residual waste are yet to be established.

Special facilities have to be developed to handle the waste of nanomaterials. The nanotechnology industries have to come up with waste disposal procedures that are special. Considering the toxicity of the nanomaterial, the necessity for special facilities has to be mandatory. Wastes from nanotechnology industries have been collected by the specific industries distributing them. To avoid reckless exposure to the toxic nanomaterial, all stakeholders should come together to properly manage waste disposal.

Another solution could be to recycle nanoproducts by industries. After use and safe disposal, the waste products could be collected by the manufacturing companies within a certain scale of time and then recycling could be done. Instead of leaving the toxic material to the environment so that it could cause risks, collection and recycling would be the most appropriate procedure. Recycling in many industries does not only provide a solution to risk exposure but also saves these industries capital for raw material. The possibility of recycling nanomaterial could significantly reduce the risk of exposure.

Possible Social and Political Impacts of the Risks and Solution

Nanotechnology contributes majorly to humanity prosperity in social justice and environmental sustainability. To some extent, it does not actualize its full potential because on the underlying political and social issues, which need to be adequately attended. The function of this section is to rise the social and political issues that arise from the risks and solutions associated with nanotech.

There are several social issues concerning the establishment of Nanotechnologies. These issues are a product of the intersection of nanotechnologies with many problematic features of the social in different existing and emerging contexts. In this respect, nanoscale science and technology are primarily not responsible for the social and political challenge associated with them. It is the social context that the technologies are used and how they are used that may pose social and political challenges. For instance, the introduction of nanotechnology into these contexts, the context experience transformations that magnify the social negative impacts of the technologies rather than the social positive impacts. Different context may bring out different features of nanotechnology. In many circumstances, most people feel that nanotechnology has the potential exacerbate social and political problems due to unique properties of nanoscale materials (Street, 2014).

In addition, there are products and functionalities that nano-scale science and technology use. However, the problematic features provide opportunities sometimes so far as nanotechnologies contribute tend to address them. The social issues of nanotechnologies are associated with legion and their range is expansive (Daniel et al., 2009). For example, they include equality and inequalities in access to health care, in education to technology, poor protections of individual autonomy, unfair trade and tariffs agreements, and limited incentives and resources to create pro-poor technologies among many others.

According to Cozzens and Wetmore (2010), nanotechnology can result to a post-scarcity utopia and can craft a dystopian planet of uncontrolled robotic and terrorist risks. The effects of technology to human and environment are usually seen as the reason why humans ought to embrace technological changes that will be tremendously troubling if the government fails to foresee them. People who are enthusiastic about technology tout its advantages based on expected new consumer goods, enhancement of the quality of life, social criticism and extended lifestyle potential. Nanotechnology has significant social impacts particularly in healthcare and medicine, the government-citizen balance of power, as well as balance of power between citizens and corporations.

Nanotechnology plays a significant role in the field of medicine. Medicine is one of the primary areas of scientific applications that are likely to realize impressive achievements based on nanotechnology. Example of benefits in medicine as already noted above include new diagnostic approaches and devices, new drug delivery systems, improved medical implants and other specialized treatments. The outcome of this progress includes improvement in health as well as lifespan expansion, although this may only be limited to who can access this technology. Therefore, justice and accessibility presents another social issue with nano technologies. The medical uses of nanotech as critical and provide one of the compelling reasons to pursues and develop nanotechnology further, seek new application and improve the efficiency (Bagheri, Moreno and Semplici, 2016). However, the realization of these goods is unlikely to be possible without anticipated consequences and costs.

The issue of cost comes about due to the fact that there is likely to be uneven distribution of healthcare benefits of nanotech in both between and within countries. Initially, the nanotech-based therapies are usually expensive and available to a few wealthy industrialized countries. This is very challenging given that, even at juncture, a large percentage of the global population still can access to clean drinking water, as well as the internet despite these technologies having been around for centuries.

However, if nanotech benefits distribution is uneven enough, it may lead to equivocal notions regarding the nature of services distributed. Distribution of healthcare in large inequalities may create costs beyond the reach of many people who do not have access to healthcare. For example, the very wealthy people tend to have extended life expectancy leading to150 years, yet on average life expectancy lies at 85 years. Conversely in North Africa, the average life expectancy is 35 years. Generally, this factor is can lead to an array negative social and political outcomes, and possible social unrest. Therefore, the way to minimize this cost is to monitor distributional factors when pursuing nanotech’s benefits and ensuring that large inequalities do not crop up. Healthcare cost is also a set of costs that affect nanotechnology.

Military applications are other social impacts that affect the use nanotechnology. Here, nanotechnology is anticipated to influence social power relations since it has enormous potential for military applications such surveillance application. Military is known to fund nanotechnology research that is directed towards their applications. They employ nanotechnology it to develop danced advanced materials which have strong properties such as enhanced fire and impact resistance. In the long term, they expect nanotechnology weapons systems to appear in forms of ‘swarms’ of miniaturized UCAVs. There are no social benefits of military application of nanotechnology. However, for the nations, there is a temporary benefit for those who develop these technologies, however usually other nations tend to develop the same technologies and necessary countermeasures. The social cost here is that a lot of public resources are dedicated to researching and creating military nanotechnologies but not to those researchers who attempt to develop the products intended to server genuine human needs.

On the other hand, developing of military technologies could pose various repercussions for social and political interactions in the society. Modern armies have immunity to civilian threats than their predecessors did. This technology has widened the gap between the means of political violence that is available to the military and civilian populations. Despite the fact that nanotechnology empowers the military, it makes harder for the governments to listen and respond to popular demands since the government feels securely protects. According to Luppicini (2012), the application of nanotechnology in itself is not a political power. The ruling elite still need the military to wield the weapons. Furthermore, the military consists of people drawn inevitably from the general the population. In the eyes of the people, a loss of political legitimacy may threaten the capacity of even sophisticated armies to protect a given political order. Furthermore, no technological society has the ability to operate in the face of withdrawn support of a larger percentage the population that primarily supports it. However, the withdrawal of the populace support inevitably leads to the collapse of the regime. Luppicini (2012) asserts that nanotechnology may reduce the possibility of triumphant political action by forces that do not have the support of the majority. In addition, it affects the capability of nonconformist social forces to encourage the withdrawal of the populace support. Therefore, military nanotechnology is expected to authorize the already influential technology.

Some critics raised shows that nanotechnology may permit subversives, terrorists, or criminals to wield power beyond the control of governments. As stated earlier, nanotechnology can be “slippery,” thus nanotechnology equipped armies are prone to be the most tightly regulated and controlled nanotechnology. Furthermore, the technologies needed to manufacture it will automatically be jealously guarded secret by the governments. At such a level, nanotechnology will be easily portable in order to generate multiple casualties. It can contribute to terrorism which may aggravate trends leading asymmetric fighting. For instance, when an Amy of an industrialized nation become extremely difficult to defeat or attack. It may force their enemies to adopt new approaches, such as sabotage and terrorizing civilian among other soft targets. This technology is likely to have enormous potential for terrorist attacks than the currently radiological or biological agents. Therefore, expansion of military nanotechnology may possibly obliquely augment the prevalence of terrorist in the future.

Applications of nanotechnology are anticipated to concentrate political authority in the hands of governments. It must to be applied in so as to improve and miniaturize surveillance devices like listening devices, cameras, tracking devices, face and pattern recognition devices. Computer memory and electronics enhancements occasioned by nanotechnology facilitate the capacity of institutions to share, store, collect, and analyze data. Consequently, nanotechnology will greatly improve the government’s ability to track their citizens. Subsequently, this may assist authoritarian regimes to maintain their dominance and stifle social dissent.

Countries that information is likely to be plentiful and low-priced may have grave privacy repercussions particularly for those who can afford to connect. Those who are unable to afford nanotechnology have been given little consideration as compared to the rich people. IT divide is been witness by many nation predominantly in relation to internet usage that correlates with the inequality distribution of wealth. The gap between the rich and the poor is caused by an impending nano-technological revolution thus forming “Nano-divide.” Therefore, a changeover from a pre-nano to post-nano world may be traumatic and thus could exacerbate the problems of haves vs. have-nots (Luppicini, 2012).

Government surveillance is very important phenomenon. For instance, when nanotechnologies provide governments with new ways and solution to extend surveillance, we hope that liberal democratic politics will be moved in order to resist extension of surveillance. On the other hand, insurance agencies, banks, and other finance institutions tend to maintain large databases with consumer information when they use nanotechnology. In addition, individual consumer commodities can be uniquely tracked and distinguished using nanotechnology. Enhancement of nanoscale manufacturing will ultimately lead to devices becoming inexpensive and ubiquitous such that roughly all that is manufactured has one. The technology is prone to have a remarkable effect on corporations and governments in collecting information about people (Luppicini, 2012).


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