Not much is known about the ingredients in Magic Nano, a household glass and tile sealant, but its recent recall may have been a first for the nanotechnology industry, a key player in future computer-related innovations.
“We still don’t know if Magic Nano actually used nanotechnology particles or a really thin layer of particles it called nano,” Andrew Maynard, an expert on airborne particles, told internetnews.com.
“Either way, this incident is a wake-up call to the industry because it highlights the problems we face if we don’t do diligence with this new technology,” added Maynard, a science advisor to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.
Magic Nano was first sold in supermarkets and discount stores in late
According to the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Magic Nano was recalled by the manufacturer, Kleinmann GmbH (a subsidiary of Illinois Tool Works) after BfR issued a product warning on March 31.
Between March 27 and March 30, it said 97 people who reportedly used the aerosol spray claimed to suffer from health problems ranging from trouble breathing to six cases requiring hospital treatment in which water accumulated in the lungs (pulmonary edema).
BfR has since met with the manufacturer but did not get clear answers as to Magic Nano’s ingredients. BfR said it is possible that the reported health effects were associated with very fine airborne droplets produced by the aerosol product.
Maynard said the mystery surrounding Magic Nano’s ingredients was unhelpful to the nascent nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is used to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter; a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers wide.
Nanotechnology is at the cutting edge of semiconductor research, as chip designers look to pack more processing into ever-smaller pieces of silicon.
“I can’t imagine nano-scale features on a chip are going to harm anyone directly,” said Maynard. “It would have to come in contact in a way that would harm the human body, and that’s more likely with other products.
“Science has shown there is evidence that [nano materials] present a new risk to the health of the body, enough to say we need to be careful.”
Rather than new regulations, Maynard is calling for greater transparency from manufacturers in what their products contain and the potential risks.
“Product development will always outstrip our understanding of risk, but there is a lot we can do to narrow that gap,” said Maynard.
Last month, the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies issued the first
publicly available online inventory of over 200 consumer products, which manufacturers claim are made with nanomaterials or use nanotechnology.
Ten products in the project’s inventory are described as “sprays” but most are pump-action sprays. Magic Nano is the only known, maker-identified nanotechnology product that was available to consumers in the form of an aerosol can.
“Pump-action sprays typically form droplets that are much larger than those from aerosol cans,” said Maynard. “These are less likely to reach the sensitive deep lung when inhaled.”