What Happens When You Throw That iPad Away

(NHI Nanoblog) Looking for a quick rundown of what nanotechnology is, and how it might affect you? Check out this new booklet from a California environmental advocacy group.

Nanotechnology, which uses super-small particles with hugely useful properties, is already in items like bike frames, skin creams and cancer treatments. It’s also heavily used in the electronics industry, as computer chips and components get smaller and smaller.

The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, which was founded in response to the discovery in 1982 of groundwater contamination from manufacturing facilities, put out the booklet. It features easy-to-understand information about exactly what “nanoscale” means, what kind of products are using these materials and where the gaps are in what we know about these things.

It also brings up a growing concern among researchers and others looking at safety and nanomaterials: the life cycle issue, also known as what happens when you throw this stuff away.

Of course, it is an environmental group, so the booklet’s emphasis is on potential dangers. But it is fairly context-heavy, and does acknowledge that, with many nanomaterials, we just don’t know if they’re dangerous. It suggests that consumers look at their computers, smartphones and other devices, and find out whether there are nanomaterials inside. The booklet also advocates for pressing manufacturers to label nano-sized ingredients, so we all know more about what’s inside that iPad.

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posted by: Josiah Brown on December 23, 2010  6:31pm

Oswald Schmitz and Thomas Graedel of the Yale Environment School faculty wrote an April 2010 article about the related “Consumption Conundrum”:

http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2266

In 2005, Oswald Schmitz led a Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute seminar on “Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation.”