The strong growth prospects of nanotechnology are prompting an increase in government attention to the potential health effects of nano- and other ultrafine particles (UFPs), which can be even smaller: less than 0.01. So, this column reviews this interest and the nascent stage of research into these health effects.
Ultrafine Particles Come Under the Microscope
NANOTECHNOLOGY IS AN UMBRELLA TERM FOR the science and technology of controlling the structure and properties of materials and systems at the scale of 10-9 meters — 1/100,000 the width of a human hair, or less than 0.1 . Growth projections for nanotechnology applications are 33% a year, according to the National Science Foundation, which has estimated that by 2015 such applications may total $1 trillion in the global economy. The federal government’s support of nanotechnology is illustrated by Congress’s swift enactment of The 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act on Dec. 3, 2003. This authorizes $3.7 billion over four years in federal support for nanotechnology.