Navigation Links
Notre Dame paper examines nanotechnology-related safety and ethics problem
Date:4/27/2012

A recent paper by Kathleen Eggleson, a research scientist in the Center for Nano Science and Technology (NDnano) at the University of Notre Dame, provides an example of a nanotechnology-related safety and ethics problem that is unfolding right now.

The world of nanotechnology, which involves science and engineering down at billionths-of-a-meter scales, might seem remote.

But like most new advances, the application of that technology to everyday experience has implications that can affect people in real ways.

If not anticipated, discussed or planned for, some of those implications might even be harmful.

The problem that Eggleson describes is that hospital-acquired infections are a persistent, costly, and sometimes fatal issue. A patient goes in for one condition, say an injury, but ends up being infected by a microorganism picked up in the hospital itself. That microorganism might even have developed a resistance to conventional drug treatments.

The solution is that engineers are developing new and innovative ways of coating medical materials with nano-sized particles of silver, an element that has long been known for its antimicrobial properties. These particles are being applied to hard surfaces, like bedrails and doorknobs, and to fabrics, such as sheets, gowns, and curtains, by a growing number of medical supply companies. And these new materials are proving effective.

"Nanosilver coatings have made life-saving differences to the properties of typical hospital items," says Eggleson. "Just this last December, a textile made by a Swiss company was the first nano-scale material approved as a pesticide by the EPA."

The possible new danger is that the vast majority of bacteria and other microorganisms are actually neutral, or even beneficial, to human life and a healthy environment. For example, some bacteria are needed to maintain appropriate levels of nitrogen in the air, and others, living inside the human body, are critical to both vitamin synthesis and digestion.

So overuse of nanosilver products, especially outside of clinical environments, could pose a danger to needed microorganisms, and enable resistant strains to flourish.

"Under most conditions, the preservation of microbial biodiversity is a benefit," explains Eggleson.

"In fact, those who would use these potent new antimicrobial technologies for frivolous uses, such as for odor control, work directly against the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative's goal of responsible nanotechnology development."

Eggleson came to the Center for Nano Science and Technology last year to study and prompt discussion of problems like these.

"NDnano is expanding its scope into studies of the societal impact of nanotechnology," explains Wolfgang Porod, Frank M. Freimann Professor of Electrical Engineering at Notre Dame and director of the center. "This is the background for bringing Kathy on board."

To facilitate such discussion, Eggleson initiated a monthly meeting group, called the Nano Impacts Intellectual Community, which brings together Notre Dame researchers from across campus, visiting scholars and authors from outside the university, and leaders from the local area to probe nanotechnology topics in depth.

The group has tackled such issues as the ethics of nanomedicine, the commercialization of nanotechnology products, and the interdisciplinary nature of nanotechnology research.

"I appreciate being a part of this on-going conversation," says Glenn Killoren, an attorney at Barnes & Thornburg LLP and a regular Nano Impacts attendee. "Nanotechnology isn't just something that happens in research labs anymore. It's a small but growing part of our lives, and both scientists and non-scientists need to think about its effects."

Eggleson and NDnano faculty have also met with a number of local middle school and high school teachers who feature nanotechnology in their lesson plans. Moreover, the center supports Ivy Tech Community College-North Central's program to train aspiring nanotechnology technicians.

"We try to do as much as we can to engage the community this exciting area," says Eggleson.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kathleen Eggleson
eggleson.1@nd.edu
574-631-1229
University of Notre Dame
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. Nanotrees harvest the suns energy to turn water into hydrogen fuel
2. Notre Dame researchers develop paint-on solar cells
3. Notre Dame researchers demonstrate new DNA detection technique
4. Notre Dame researchers awarded millions to develop radically new computers
5. Dyadic International Launches FibreZyme® G5000 High Performance Powder Pulp and Paper Enzyme in Booth #1065 at Tissue World Americas Conference
6. PubMed Users Now Save Time Accessing and Organizing Scientific Papers by Using Bibliogo From Reprints Desk
7. Low-cost paper-based wireless sensor could help detect explosive devices
8. Nucleic Acids Research Journal Publishes Sapphire Energy Peer-Reviewed Research Paper on a Chloroplast Genome From Green Algae
9. Low-cost paper-based wireless sensor could help detect explosive devices
10. New White Paper Examines Clinical Trial Material Production & Testing: What Your Contract Manufacturing Organization is Not Telling You
11. ACTE Releases Paper on How Career, Technical Student Organizations Expand Career Readiness for Students
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/29/2017)... The Global Microfluidic Chips Market by Manufacturers, ... and comprehensive study on the existing state of the global Microfluidic ... Europe and Asia-Pacific , ... and Africa . ... Browse 172 Tables and Figures, 13 Major Company ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... ... March 28, 2017 , ... NetDimensions announced today that ... enhance training plan management for consistent implementation of standards and regulatory requirements across ... Group to help improve and streamline their training and employee development programs, which ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... California (PRWEB) , ... March 28, 2017 , ... ... its flagship product, AllegroGraph , has been named a ‘Champion’ by Bloor Research ... is the highest ranked product in its class, and, thanks to Gruff, it was ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... Ann Arbor, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... March 28, ... ... company was awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from ... will receive approximately $750,000 over two years to develop a suite of BioGel™ ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:3/2/2017)... 2, 2017 Australian stem cell and regenerative ... has signed an agreement with the Monash Lung Biology ... Discovery Institute and Department of Pharmacology at Monash University, ... preclinical study to support the use of Cymerus™ mesenchymal ... Asthma is a chronic, long term lung ...
(Date:2/28/2017)...   Acuant , a leading provider of data ... to new and core technologies building upon the acquisition ... and desktop Acuant FRM TM facial recognition and ... time manual review of identity documents by accredited professionals. ... and most accurate capture software to streamline workflows by ...
(Date:2/28/2017)... BARCELONA , Spanien, 27. Februar 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... durch Iris-Scan, wird seine erstklassige biometrische Lösung ... Snapdragon™ 835 mit X16 LTE auf dem ... 2. März) am Qualcomm-Stand in Halle 3, ... 835-Prozessor beinhaltet die Sicherheitsplattform Qualcomm Haven™ – ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):