"Magic Nano" Spray Recalled In Germany

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Nanotech proponents and companies better hope this is a false alarm, but a spray designed to enhance water and dirt resistance for glass and ceramic tiles has been withdrawn from the German market after 74 users complained of difficulties breathing. Some users apparently have suffered edema (fluid collecting their lungs). It is not known if the product actually uses nano-sized particles or if the "nano" name is simply a high tech sounding marketing gimmick.

"Even if the problem here is attributed to a non-nano issue, some people and groups are on high-alert, so the industry needs to take care to mitigate these issues before a problem occurs with a real nanotech product," says Patrick Lin, research director of the Nanoethics Group. Lin is right. There are already anti-nanotech activists who would only be too happy to take advantage of any public alarm over nanotech.

Of course, perfect safety for new technologies can never be guranteed in advance, but more research on the environmental and health effects of nano-particles needs to be done. In most instances, nano-sized components will be incorporated in larger structures or be confined in enclosed manufacturing processes and unable to interact with the environment as reactive particles. However, loose nano-particles can cause problems and need extra scrutiny. If the industry doesn't police itself, the regulators surely will.

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  1. Thing is, most proposed nanotech would be embedded in some sort of solid matrix or adhered to a substrate or present in a solution rather than an aerosol. I don’t know if the newer nanoparticles are any worse for your lungs than other types of powders, but even if they are I don’t see most nanotech presenting these types of hazards.

    Then again, I also don’t see nanotech turning the world upside down either. There will be real, interesting, and significant applications, but the world won’t turn into some sort of sci-fi novel because of nanotech.

  2. I should have read the post more carefully. Ron said basically the same thing.

    I would go farther and say that if nanotech mostly consists of free-floating nanoparticles then it will never go anywhere beyond making somewhat more useful coatings and catalysts. Which are still pretty important applications, and potentially worth billions of dollars, but hardly the stuff of sci-fi.

    If any of the loopier visions are to come true, nanotech will have to consist of something other than free-floating nanoparticles. I did a little work along those lines in grad school with optical devices, and I’m sitting on another idea along those lines until I figure out some stuff. (If my timing is right, I’ll work on it when I’m a faculty member and thereby get myself tenure.)

  3. We’re coming for you. Planning to make your lives a living hell.

  4. t:

    Stop being so glib. It’s obvious that we will all be ruled by microscopic robots!

    You may not believe it now. But you will. Soon.

  5. So there it is. Now Bailey is shilling for the Underwriters Laboratories nanotech safety division without disclosing who he’s working for. Someone call the Center for Consumer Freedom!

  6. It is not known if the product actually uses nano-sized particles

    Then what the hell is the point of the article?

  7. bubba, because everyone will run amok screaming about the nanotech peril, despite the fact that the only “nano” involved is the word. Of course, even if it’s really a nanotech product, that doesn’t necessarily mean the problem (if there really is one) has anything to do with nanotech.

    Robots are a far deadlier force than any wee particles, that’s for sure. Prepare for the end.

  8. Ron, you forgot the stock disclaimer. Joe will be on you like a Baptist on a bible.

  9. “If the industry doesn’t police itself, the regulators surely will.”

    I think the regulators surely will regardless.

  10. Just so I can get prepared.. how do you fight Grey Goo? I know you need fire with Green Slime.

  11. Well, don’t tell anyone that I told you, but we’re allergic to urine.

  12. Thoreau, you’re going to end up in one of those “Hilarious Quotes From Scientists” books, full of remarks from experts in the sixties who said, “Someday computers will be twice as fast and take up only half of your living room…”

    Scientists make the worst futurists.

  13. As a uniquely qualified futurist (back off man, I’m a non-scientist), here’s my prediction: Mankind will soon develop insanely efficient, non-dangerous AI that will have the potential to lead us into an incredible golden age of universal human happiness. Unfortunately, the simultaneous development of the Salma Hayek Love Android? will result in the total and permanent collapse of civilization.

    Too bad.

  14. “Just so I can get prepared.. how do you fight Grey Goo?”

    EMP. That’s why the threat of rampaging nanobots is absurd — anything that small will be extremely vulnerable to electrical discharges.

  15. Sell! Sell! Sell!

  16. It’s obvious that we will all be ruled by microscopic robots!
    You are already doing our bidding. Now please get away from that damned computer we hadn’t planned on and go impregnate some females.

  17. LOL!

  18. Robots, schmobots, what I’m really afraid of are nano-sized ninjas.

  19. Ersatz-

    A nano-sized Jack Bauer could beat up those nano-sized ninjas.

    A nano-sized Jack Bauer could even beat up a real Chuck Norris.

  20. Nano-sized Ninjas can be stopped via the use of nano-sized pirates.

  21. An injection of nano-Bauer could interrogate people at the cellular level.

  22. mediageek-

    Maybe aerosols of nano-pirates could prevent global warming?

  23. TELL ME WHO YOU’RE METABOLIZING FOR!

  24. Has this headline appeared yet?:
    “Neener neener, nano macht edema”

  25. Facts:

    1. Nano-ninjas are molecules.

    2. Nano-ninjas fight ALL the time.

    3. The purpose of the nano-ninja is to flip out and assemble and disassemble protiens.

  26. Riiiight…ok, back to the topic at hand…even if nanoparticles are usually not free-floating in the consumer products that contain them, there’s still a problem of manufacturing workers being exposed to them.

    And you forget something else that is very important: San Dimas High School Football rulez!

  27. Is there a Chuck Nanonorris?

  28. Chucklet Nanonorris?
    Chiclet Nanonorris?

    How many know that Munich, Germany, means nano-monk: muenchen?

  29. but the world won’t turn into some sort of sci-fi novel because of nanotech.

    Hmm… thoreau, I think you are too used to our contemporary world. The world would most certainly look sci-fi to someone from a century ago. I imagine the level of technology and different sexual mores would be enough for them to consider it a sci-fi world.

  30. A short list:

    Space travel (albeit limited)
    Satellite communications
    Cell phones
    Computers
    Television
    Gay marriage debate
    Relative gender and racial equality
    Fighter jets
    Arthroscopic surgery
    Antibiotics
    Nuclear power
    Nuclear weapons

  31. OK, point taken. I guess what I don’t buy is the “with nano all of our problems will be solved and everything will be easy” hype.

  32. “Of course, perfect safety for new technologies can never be guranteed in advance, but more research on the environmental and health effects of nano-particles needs to be done.”

    And Reason will be there to oppose any and all government regulations requiring it be done, making this about as empty as a statement can get.

  33. OK, point taken. I guess what I don’t buy is the “with nano all of our problems will be solved and everything will be easy” hype.

    thoreau, you should not give in so easily.

    That laundry list of The Real Bill’s is impressive and the stuff of Verne’s sci-fi, but none of it represents a quantum difference between life at the beginning of the 20th century and life at the beginning of the 21st. One of the Wright brothers would take a couple weeks before he felt comfortable in the here and now. “Internet? This is just a bigger Montgomery Ward catalog with less personal service.”

    As I was telling someone the other day, there need to be two different words for the two concepts which now share the word ‘nanotechnology’. One is making useful small things in large number. The other is self-replicating machines following an exponential manufacturing and computational trajectory to the Singularity in 2017.

    The former is entirely likely and is destined to be a many-billion-dollar industry in the near future. The latter isn’t.

  34. I guess what I don’t buy is the “with nano all of our problems will be solved and everything will be easy” hype.

    You don’t? I never would have pegged you as a Luddite. I mean, nano isn’t the only technology going, and for every problem solved another will be created. And easy is a relative term, compared to a hundred years ago (or even fifty, even ten?) things are easier now than ever before. I think it’s a no brainer to say they will get easier in the future.

    As for this product, I’ll bet, the word ‘nano’ is all marketing and no new technology. Furthermore, I think the “problems” being reported are either flat out bogus, or anti-placebo, over that word.

  35. I guess what I don’t buy is the “with nano all of our problems will be solved and everything will be easy” hype.

    You don’t? I never would have pegged you as a Luddite. I mean, nano isn’t the only technology going, and for every problem solved another will be created. And easy is a relative term, compared to a hundred years ago (or even fifty, even ten?) things are easier now than ever before. I think it’s a no brainer to say they will get easier in the future.

    As for this product, I’ll bet, the word ‘nano’ is all marketing and no new technology. Furthermore, I think the “problems” being reported are either flat out bogus, or anti-placebo, over that word.

  36. “Of course, perfect safety for new technologies can never be guranteed in advance, but more research on the environmental and health effects of nano-particles needs to be done.”

    And Reason will be there to oppose any and all government regulations requiring it be done, making this about as empty as a statement can get.

    I had the exact opposite reaction. I think Mr. Bailey is absolutely correct here. the tort system encourages compaines to take health / safety issues seriously. The private efforts aimed at safety testing track future risks more rationally than if a layer of politicians (who may or may not have received consideration from rival productmakers) say what is to be done.

  37. Warren-

    I’m not a Luddite. But I see a lot of hype around nano. Most of that hype will not be realized. That doesn’t mean that there will be no advances. But the greatest advances will be things that nobody predicted, while the craziest predictions won’t come true.

    Think about robots and computers. Everybody predicted that some day there would be machines that look and act like us. And, to be fair, maybe some day there will be. But what people discovered is that making artificial people isn’t the coolest thing that you can do with computers. Instead, they discovered that the coolest and most revolutionary uses of computers are: (1) controlling the machines around us, (2) tools for calculations to design new technologies, (3) managing information and most important of all (4) the internet, a tool for sending, receiving, manipulating, displaying, and creating media content.

    Nanobots and intelligent gray goo sound way too much like the robots that were once predicted. I predict that nano’s greatest applications will be in two areas: (1) doing old things better (coatings, circuitry, catalysts, etc.) and (2) something that nobody has thought of yet, but is basically a much, much, much cooler way of combining things that people already did, and combining them to do them better and easier and faster.

    That’s sort of what the internet is: It changed the world not by doing things that had never been done before, but rather by letting us do something much better: Communicate.

    That doesn’t make me a Luddite. I’m not out to smash anything. If gray goo and nanobots do transform the world, hey, awesome! But I predict that the future will be much more original and yet much more mundane at the same time.

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