On 20 September 2020, a YSN-ASM Science Café was organised to explore the promise of nanotechnologies and the public fear or rejection it may create.
The novel features of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) offer enormous potential for technological progress in the 21st century. The advantages of nanoparticles, such as the increased solubility of nanosuspensions and their low production costs have resulted in their rapid commercialisation in various applications, raising concerns regarding their safety for human health and the environment.
With the continued commercial upscaling of engineered nanomaterials production and application, comes a responsibility to understand, reduce and where possible to eradicate, the environmental impacts of these materials.
Shawn Keng moderated this session of Science Café featuring Dr Leo Bey Fen, a senior lecturer and research fellow at the Nanotechnology and Catalysis Research Centre (NANOCAT), Universiti Malaya.
Dr Leo outlined her presentation for the session, which included an introduction to nanomaterials and its applications in consumer products, as well as the benefits and negative impacts associated with it. Another topic that Dr Leo mentioned was nanosafety, covering the primary mechanism of toxicity, the life cycle of products, product regulation as well as risk assessments.
What Are Nanomaterials?
In the International System of Units, the prefix “nano” means one-billionth, or 10-9; therefore, one nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. To help us imagine how small things are on the nanoscale compared to biological components, the diagram below illustrates: