Public sees nanoparticle risk as low

RALEIGH, N.C., April 12 (UPI) -- The public is relatively unconcerned about nanotechnology risks compared with other environmental and health safety threats, a U.S. study found.

Researchers at North Carolina State University found that nanoparticles are perceived by most people as being a relatively low risk among a group of 24 public-health risks presented in the survey.


"For example, 19 of the other public-health risks were perceived as more hazardous, including suntanning and drinking alcohol," Andrew Binder, an assistant professor of communications, said.

"The only things viewed as less risky were cell-phone use, blood transfusions, commercial air travel and medical X-rays."

Researchers asked those in the survey a battery of questions about how risky they believe nanoparticles are compared to 23 other public health risks, including obesity, smoking, using cellphones and nuclear energy, a university release said Tuesday.

Sixty percent of respondents felt that nanoparticles pose either no health risk or only a slight health risk.

Both proponents and opponents of nanotechnology have argued that the public is aware of its environmental health and safety dangers.

"The findings suggest just the opposite," David Berube, professor of communication and lead author of the study, said. "While it remains unclear whether nanoparticles are safe, they are not a major concern among the general public."


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