With carbon nanotubes in the news again, where’s the public interest in possible risks?

Back in 2008, carbon nanotubes – exceptionally fine tubes made up of carbon atoms – were making headlines. A new study from the U.K. had just shown that, under some conditions, these long, slender fiber-like tubes could cause harm in mice in the same way that some asbestos fibers do. As a collaborator in that ...

4 mins

Hoverboards and health: how good for you is this year’s hottest trend?

Walking across campus to my office each morning this semester, I’ve found it hard to ignore the growing number of students using hoverboards to get around. These two-wheel self-balancing boards (they don’t really hover, Back-to-the-Future-style) are one of the hottest gadgets this holiday season. As sedentary lifestyles continue to be a major underlying factor in chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, I wondered whether these trendy two-wheelers are simply another way to avoid the exercise we all need to stay healthy. As it turns out, it’s not only their health that hoverboard users need to worry about.

1 min

Responsible Innovation, and the (nano) entrepreneur’s dilemma

Responsible innovation is a great concept – it embodies ideas around ensuring our inventiveness works for the long term good of society, without inadvertently throwing up more problems than it solves. But to entrepreneurs and others trying to make ends meet while launching a new product or idea, it can quickly begin to look like an ill-affordable luxury

8 mins

New study shows “BPA-free” labels may increase risky behavior

Products with the label “BPA-free” have become ubiquitous on store shelves in recent years.  It’s a trend that has been driven by consumer concerns that the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, may be harmful at low doses.  Yet a recent study suggests that the label may mislead consumers into thinking that “free” means “safer” — even when there’s a chance that the substances ...

1 min

Ebola virus: Insights from University of Michigan Experts

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been posting articles on the ebola outbreak from University of Michigan experts. As concern continues to grow over the outbreak, we’ve collected these together on the Risk Science Center Ebola Virus Topic Page, and will continue to add to this as new articles are posted. Current articles include perspectives on the deadliness ...

2 mins

Advanced Materials – What’s the big deal?

Why are materials important? How do they limit what we can achieve? And what can we do to change this?  (Check out the videos below). Advanced Materials Materials and how we use them are inextricably linked to the development of human society.  Yet amazing as historic achievements using stone, wood, metals and other substances seem, these ...

8 mins

Q&A on Nanotech regulation in Europe

Chemistry World posted a good article yesterday on nanotech regulation in Europe (Europe mulls best way to handle nanotech by Andrew Williams).  I have a couple of quotes in the piece, along with Risk Science Center colleague Diana Bowman).  These are taken from a longer set of responses to questions from Williams, which I thought it might be ...

4 mins

The gathering storm of lab safety

Pathogen safety in federal labs Over the past few weeks, revelations of potentially dangerous errors in US federal labs handling pathogens have placed health and safety high on the national agenda.  In June, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced as many as 75 of its staff may have been exposed to anthrax due to safety ...

2 mins

Who’s afraid of carbon nanotubes?

I’ve been fascinated by the coverage of Surrey nanosystems’ carbon nanotube-based Vantablack material this week. The material’s had widespread coverage – just Google “vantablack” to see what I mean.  But in amongst all the geeked-out media excitement over the world’s darkest material, there’s been nary a word on the possible health risks presented by the material. As ...

2 mins

New York Times does nanoparticles in sunscreens

What are the risks of nanoparticles in sunscreens? The New York Times has just posted an “Ask Well” article today by Deborah Blum answering the questions What are the risks from nanoparticles of titanium in sunscreens? and I am curious about the dangers of nanoparticles in sunblocks Risk Bites As I uploaded a YouTube video recently ...

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