Building a Safe Nanotechnology Future

Nanotechnology provides seemingly endless opportunities, from manufacturing tremendously powerful yet incredibly small computers to developing new sustainable energy sources and devising personalized cures for cancer. But we must wake up to the need for research on the possible environmental, health, and safety impact of future nanotechnology applications.

We are living – according to some – on the brink of a nanotechnology revolution, where matter is engineered at a scale thousands of times smaller than the eye can see, and familiar materials behave in unexpected ways. This revolution, if successful, will turn our world upside down.

Nanotechnology gives us increasing control over the material world, providing opportunities to enhance existing technologies and develop new ones. The opportunities seem endless, from building stronger, lighter materials and manufacturing tremendously powerful yet incredibly small computers, to developing new sustainable energy sources and devising personalized cures for cancer.

More than 500 manufacturer-identified nanotechnology consumer products are now on the market, from cosmetics to car parts to tableware. By 2014 an estimated $2.6 trillion in manufactured goods around the world (or 15% of total global output) will use this technology, building on the research of scientists in some 100 nations around the world. If current projections are right, nanotechnology has the potential to have an impact on nearly every industry and virtually every aspect of our lives.

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