The end of the 1990s saw considerable investment in new nanoscale materials thanks to their distinct properties. But, by creating these tiny particles, scientists were creating potential new ways for materials to interact with the human body and the environment.
"That was one of the big drivers behind concern over nanoparticles. Then there is the secondary possibility that without knowing what these new risks are and how to manage them, people may pull back from trusting or investing in the technology," says Andrew Maynard, director of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center in the US. "One of the clearest places to see this is in the food industry, which as a whole has pulled away from using nanomaterials because there seems to be too much uncertainty around the products."