What is nanotechnology? What are the hazards associated with it?
Nanotechnology is the generic name given to the production or use of very small, or 'nano' particles. These are particles that are less than one hundred nanometres or about one thousandth the width of a human hair. A nanometre is one billionth of a metre.
It is an area for which there is very little specific regulation in Australia. Companies are under almost no obligation to even notify any government authority if they import, use or manufacture nanomaterials. The only exception is that in recent changes, if companies want to introduce nano forms of new industrial chemicals - that is chemicals that are new to Australia, and not listed in the Australian Inventory of Industrial Substances (AICS), then they must notify NICNAS. The APVMA has also introduced some new rules for ag and vet chemicals.
The potential effects of nanomaterials on worker health and that of the general community, as well as on the environment, are largely unknown.