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Nanotechnology in packaging presents rewards and risks

Nanotechnology is not without risks, but it packs potential for packaging applications and medical breakthroughs.


Consumer safety and supply issues must be addressed before nanotechnology is readily accepted in the packaging community. That’s according to PIRA consultant Dr. Graham Moore, who spoke at a recent online conference by NanoKTN. Keeping those issues in mind, Moore noted in a article that nanotechnology offers considerable potential for packaging, with “barriers, track and trace, anti-counterfeit measures and intelligent packaging all identified as possible outlets for nanotechnologies.” Moore’s book, “Nanotechnology in Packaging,” was previously reviewed in Packaging World magazine.

Nanotechnology: An Industrial Revolution? provides a good background on nanotechnology’s global growth. Looking at commercial applications, this Nanovip-Nanotechnology News and Information article notes, “Nano-particles were first used in the food industry for packaging. To retard spoilage, some packaging uses nano-particles of titanium dioxide in the wrapping to reduce UV exposure or of silica to block oxygen penetration.” (Nano-based tubes are illustrated in this article’s photo.)

Nanotechnology’s potential for medical treatment is staggering. A report on Nanovip-Nanotechnology News and Information says, “Scientists at the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences say they are using nanotechnology applications to carry pain relieving drugs to injured soldiers in combat.”

The same Web site hosts a video in which Tejal Desai, University of California San Francisco Professor of bioengineering, demonstrates how “insulin injections may soon be a thing of the past for diabetics thanks to nano-technology.”

There are potential risks of nanotechnology for health and the environment, says a Nanovip article, which points out, “There is no international regulation of nano-products or nano-technology or any internationally agreed definitions of nanotechnology, no internationally agreed protocols for toxicity testing or evaluating the environmental impacts of nano-particles.”

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