Manmade nanoparticles range from the well-established multi-ton production of carbon black and fumed silica for applications in plastic fillers and car tyres to microgram quantities of fluorescent quantum dots used as markers in biological imaging. While benefits of nanotechnology are widely publicized, the discussion of the potential effects of their widespread use in the consumer and industrial products are just beginning to emerge. Acceptance of nanoparticle toxicity led to wide acceptance of the fact that nanotoxicology, as a scientific discipline shall be quite different from occupational hygiene in approach and context. Understanding the toxicity of nanomaterials and nano-enabled products is important for human and environmental health and safety as well as public acceptance. Assessing the state of knowledge about nanotoxicology is an important step in promoting comprehensive understanding of the health and environmental implications of these new materials. Very limited data exist for health effects secondary to inhalation of very fine respirable particles in the occupational environment. Nanomaterials may have effects on health due to their size, surface, shape, charge, or other factors, which are not directly predictable from mass concentration measurements. Numerous epidemiological studies have associated exposure to small particles such as combustion-generated fine particles with lung cancer, heart disease, asthma and/or increased mortality. The omnipresence of nanoparticles shifts focus of research toward efforts to mitigate the health effects of nanoparticles. Newer health assessment methods and newer techniques need to be developed for diagnosing sub-optimal health in populations exposed to carbon nanoparticles.
Keywords: Environment; health and safety; literature review; nanotoxicology.