And you thought the nanotoxic gym socks were bad. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine have found nanoparticles in kidney stones, gall stones, and in the hardened arteries which can lead to heart attacks. All of these conditions are caused by calcium build up, and researchers believe nanoparticles may be the seeds that set the calcium deposits growing.
There's still a lot of uncertainty flying around about just how toxic nanomaterials that make their way into air, soil, and water supplies (or whether they're even toxic at all). And the researchers — Virginia Miller and John Lieske, say they're not sure whether these nanoparticles are naturally formed in the body, or if they're picked up from the environment. You can listen to an interview called with them here called "Nanoparticles and Disease." They'll also be heading up a session on nanotech and physiology at the Experimental Biology 2008 conference on Wednesday.
In her work, Miller injected lab animals' artery walls with nanoparticles and the walls became inflamed. Inflammatory response is a first step towards hardening, but clearly a lot more work is going to be needed before the issue of nanotoxicity is laid to rest. Still, would it hurt if Britta started making water filters that we could set to "nano"?