CORVALLIS, Ore. Nanotechnology is about to emerge in the world of pesticides and pest control, and a range of new approaches are needed to understand the implications for public health, ensure that this is done safely, maximize the potential benefits and prevent possible risks, researchers say in a new report.
In a study published today in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, scientists from Oregon State University and the European Union outline six regulatory and educational issues that should be considered whenever nanoparticles are going to be used in pesticides.
"If we do it right, it should be possible to design nanoparticles with safety as a primary consideration, so they can help create pesticides that work better or are actually safer," said Stacey Harper, an assistant professor of nanotoxicology at Oregon State University. Harper is a national leader in the safety and environmental impacts of this science that deals with particles so extraordinarily small they can have novel and useful characteristics.
"Unlike some other applications of nanotechnology, which are further along in development, applications for pesticides are in their infancy," Harper said. "There are risks and a lot of uncertainties, however, so we need to understand exactly what's going on, what a particular nanoparticle might do, and work to eliminate use of any that do pose dangers."
A program is already addressing that at OSU, as part of the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.
The positive aspect of nanotechnology use with pesticides, researchers say, is that it might allow better control and delivery of active ingredients, less environmental drift, formulations that will most effectively reach the desired pest, and perhaps better protection for agricultural workers.
"If you could use less pesticide and still accomplish the same goal, that's a concept worth pursuing," Harper
|Contact: Stacey Harper|
Oregon State University