Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Out of sight is not out of mind

Taken from Big Issue magazine - December 19th 2011

Not enough is being done to evaluate whether tiny airborne 
nanoparticles are damaging people’s health, according to a former 
Manchester University scientist.

Nanoparticles of substances such as iron and copper are produced by 
industrial and waste management processes and car emissions.

They are found in products ranging from tennis racquets to paints, 
and also occur naturally. Critically, nanoparticles are so small – 
less than a billionth of a metre – that can often possess properties 
that are different from the bulk material from which they are drawn.
Scientists have suggested that nanoparticles could be associated with 
heart attacks, asthma and a worsening of the condition in people with 

Last year new EU legislation reduced the level at which particulate 
matter (pm) is regulated from 10 to 2.5pm in diameter. But former 
research fellow Graham Cliff believes public bodies don’t have the 
equipment to do so.

 Graham Cliff 

The Environment Agency uses the well know method of light microscopy 
to assess particles. But Cliff said: “This cannot chemically analyse 
small particles, reducing our understanding of what is in the air.”
Cliff pointed out that that the initial failure to regulate asbestos 
particles below 10pm led to thousands of deaths from mesothelioma 
across Britain.

He said: “Cliff said: “We know that in 1947 scientists were 
instructed to ignore nanoparticles and then in the 1970s Professor 
John A Chandler from the Cardiff University Cancer Research Institute 
was restricted from analysing particles below 10pm because they were 
considered too small to do any damage.

“Although it’s now accepted that’s not the case the very same 
argument is being used with regard to nanoparticles down to 1pm.”

Three years ago at Beijing Chaoyang Hospital tests were carried out 
on seven young women exposed to nanoparticles in paint in their 
workplace for up to 13 months. Suffering from shortness of breath and 
excess fluids in their lungs, the women, two of whom died, were 
tested, with doctors concluding that “long-term exposure to some 
nanoparticles without protective measures may be related to serious 
damage to human lungs.”

Here in Britain Professor Patrick Case from Bristol University 
believes that “nanoparticles may cause DNA damage” and Professor 
Raymond Agius from Manchester University has suggested that 
“aggravation of dementia” may be a symptom. Cliff claimed other 
scientists fear that nanoparticles are contributing to heart attacks 
and a general rise in asthma amongst the public.

Yet Britain lags behind China and the US in assessing the possible 
health effects of human exposure to nanoparticles. The Health 
Protection Agency did establish a Nanotoxicology Research Centre in 
2008 in Oxfordshire – using sophisticated electron microscopes 
costing up to £3 million each – but could not say when it would issue 
any results.

But a Health Protection Agency spokesperson said this technique might 
not be suitable for other government departments. “It is not clear 
that electron microscopy would be the most appropriate technique for 
the Environment Agency to use to evaluate nanoparticles,” said the 

1 comment:

  1. Mark you do not need an electron miscroscope to see the haze of particles that are blocking the sun and circulating in our breathing space. Heavy metals, flouride, funghal spores and goodness knows what else, have been reported as being detected. Yes and the government know about it because as I am sure that you have seen on TV, there is an active campaign encouraging you to snitch on anybody who has short term memory difficulty, that being the early sign of dementia, and attempting to take the stigma out of talking to Mental Health experts. So any of the mental disorders that are prevelant are man created. We are being experimented on without our knowledge.