Article I. Environmental, Health and Safety 1
(a) Why Nanotechnology Is Important to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 1
(b) Environmental Benefits of Nanotechnology 2
(c) Environmental Hazards 3
Article II. Ethical, Legal and Moral Issues 6
(a) Nano-ethics 7
(b) Some ethical dilemmas faced by nanotechnology are: 7
(c) Component driven by nanotechnology. 8
(d) Potential benefits of nanotechnology 8
(e) The social implications of nanotechnology. 9
Article III. Works Cited 10
Article I. Environmental, Health and Safety
(a) Why Nanotechnology Is Important to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Nanotechnology holds great promise for creating new materials with enhanced properties and attributes. These properties, such as greater catalytic efficiency, increased electrical conductivity, and improved hardness and strength, are a result of nanomaterials’ larger surface area per unit of volume and quantum effects that occur at the nanometer scale (“nanoscale”). Nanomaterials are already being used or tested in a wide range of products such as sunscreens, composites, medical and electronic devices, and chemical catalysts. Some of the same special properties that make nanomaterials useful are also properties that may cause some nanomaterials to pose hazards to humans and the environment, under specific conditions. Some nanomaterials that enter animal tissues may be able to pass through cell membranes or cross the blood-brain barrier. This may be a beneficial characteristic for such uses as targeted drug delivery and other disease treatments, but could result in unintended impacts in other uses or applications. Inhaled nanoparticles may become lodged in the lung or be translocated, and the high durability and reactivity of some nanomaterials raise issues of their fate in the environment. It may be that in most cases nanomaterials will not be of human health or ecological concern. However, at this point not enough information exists to assess environmental exposure for most engineered nanomaterials. This information is important because EPA will need a sound scientific basis for assessing and managing any unforeseen future impacts resulting from the introduction of nanoparticles and nanomaterials into the environment.
A challenge for environmental protection is to help fully realize the societal benefits of nanotechnology while identifying and minimizing any adverse impacts to humans or ecosystems from exposure to nanomaterials. (Advisor, 2007)
(b) Environmental Benefits of Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology offers the potential to improve exposure assessment by facilitating collection of large numbers of measurements at a lower cost and improved specificity. It soon will be possible to develop micro- and nanoscale sensor arrays that can detect specific sets of harmful agents in the environment at very low concentrations.
Nanotechnology has the potential to contribute to long-term water quality, availability, and viability of water resources, such as through advanced filtration that enables more water reuse, recycling, and desalinization. Applications potentially extend even more broadly to ecological health. One long-term challenge to water quality in the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay, and elsewhere is the buildup of nutrients and toxic substances due to runoff from agriculture, lawns, and gardens.
There is potential for nanotechnology to contribute to reductions in energy demand through lighter materials for vehicles, materials and geometries that contribute to more effective temperature control, technologies that improve manufacturing process efficiency, materials that increase the efficiency of electrical components and transmission lines, and materials that could contribute to a new generation of fuel cells and a potential hydrogen economy.
Nanotechnology may also lead to more efficient and effective use of materials. For example,…