A top Finnish expert: Let us not allow the 20th century asbestos catastrophe to be followed by a nano catastrophe

A top Finnish expert: Let us not allow the 20th century asbestos catastrophe to be followed by a nano catastrophe

In the shops there are over 600 products based on nanotechnology, such as socks, tooth paste, sun cream and bed sheets. It has been forecast that annual sales will grow from the present EUR100 billion to EUR2,500 billion.

The possibilities are enormous but we know barely anything about the risks, says Kai Savolainen from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. And he is the right person to speak about risks, as he is the Institute’s director of the nanotechnology safety research and acts also as the coordinator of European research projects on nanotechnology health risks. Recently SAK’s magazine Palkkatyöläinen published his insights, presented in a trade union seminar, on nanotechnology risks.

We were far too late in taking the health risks of asbestos seriously, Savolainen reminds us. In spite of the risks, the use of asbestos went on for decades, and there are still countries where its use has not yet been banned. When the economic expectations are big, one tends to ignore the health risks, Savolainen explains. In this he sees a similarity between asbestos and nanotechnology.

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