Opinion: Nanotechnology is an amazing innovation and potentially dangerous.

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Nanotechnology is the next revolution in materials science. There is a race to replace the old with the new and take our technology to the next level. Nanotechnology is revealing a new set of tools that can reduce cost, reduce energy consumption, increase reliability and improve performance. There are also risks and unknowns. Humanity has been here before, should we test these new materials or trudge forwards and wait for the bad news?

Each day a flood of new science papers pushes the limits of our understanding and abilities of this new technology. There are specific fields in which nano will change things for the better. Nanosatellites will drop the cost of technology for global communications. I think that nano will also change the game for rare earth metals, using much less to accomplish the same tasks. Nano will also change the game for medicine and healthcare. Nano can also be used to clean our polluted water.

With the innovation comes risk. Is the new technology safe? As we have seen the issues with microplastic in our environment, how will nanoparticles impact nature? Studies have shown that some nanomaterials are toxic, some cause physical reactions. Nanosilver has been used as an anti-microbial, it also can cause health issues. How these new materials are used is important. Nano-titanium dioxide is being used in food. Should we be doing that?

Corporations are quickly identifying the advances and advantages but are also quick to disregard safety risks. The reality is that there is no significant push to evaluate the safety of these materials. These are untested products used on our clothes, gadgets, and in our food.

What do you think Canada should do? Should there be long-term testing, or risk the unknown? With our environment already heavily polluted, can we afford to ignore the same lessons we ignored before?