New groundbreaking research by scientists at Trinity College Dublin has found that exposure to nanoparticles, commonly used in sunscreen, cosmetics and other personal care products can have a serious impact on health, linking it to rheumatoid arthritis and the development of other serious autoimmune diseases.
The findings that have been recently published in the international journal 'Nanomedicine' have health and safety implications for the manufacture, use and ultimate disposal of nanotechnology products and materials.
Scientists at the University of Plymouth were the first to show that nanoparticles have a deadly effect on the brain and other parts of the central nervous system.
Nanotechnologies are technologies at the scale of nanometres (10-9m), where new quantum effects can alter the chemistry and physics of elements and compounds, offering possibilities in industrial applications, and for exactly the same reasons, posing unprecedented risks to health and the environment.
Titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles, found in everything from cosmetics to sunscreen to paint to vitamins, have already been found to cause systemic genetic damage in mice, according to an earliercomprehensive study conducted by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The TiO2 nanoparticles induced single- and double-strand DNA breaks and also caused chromosomal damage as well as inflammation, all of which increase the risk for cancer.
Environmental pollution including carbon particles emitted by car exhaust, smoking and long term inhalation of dust of various origins have been recognised as risk factors causing chronic inflammation of the lungs. The link between smoking and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis has also been established. This new research now raises serious concerns in relation to similar risks caused by nanotechnology products which if not handled appropriately may contribute to the generation of new types of airborne pollutants causing risks to global health.
In their research, the Nanomedicine and Molecular Imaging team at Trinity College Dublin's School of Medicine led by Professor of Molecular Medicine, Yuri Volkov investigated whether there was a common underlying mechanism contributing to the development of autoimmune diseases in human cells following their exposure to a wide range of nanoparticles containing different physical and chemical properties.
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