Wednesday, July 29, 2009

CanTitanium Dioxide Nanoparticles Trigger Autism?

Add Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles to the growing list of possible environmental triggers or causes of autism spectrum disorders. The die hard proponents of the belief that the astounding increases in rates of autism diagnosis are entirely due to changes in diagnostic criteria, increased awareness and other social considerations will be disappointed to learn of yet another possible environmental trigger or cause of autism spectrum disorders.

As reported at Tokyo University of Science researchers led by pharmaceutical sciences Professor Ken Takeda have found that Nanoparticles of titanium dioxide, used in air and water purification and self-cleaning surfaces, cause brain dysfunction in mice. The researchers' findings could implicate titanium dioxide nanoparticles as autism inducing triggers:

The researchers, led by pharmaceutical sciences Professor Ken Takeda, said genes affected by titanium dioxide nanoparticles are associated with childhood disorders such as autism, epilepsy and learning disabilities.

This particular study focused not just on titanium dioxide found in a number of commonly used products such as paint, sunscreen and food coloring but on the use of molecular sized nanoparticals of titanium dioxide which behave differently at that molecular level:

Nanotechnology deals with engineering at the molecular scale. Materials reduced to nanoparticles behave in ways dissimilar to those we're used to, altering their reactivity, surface area to volume and other properties, the researchers said.

It seems that, all too often, new technologies emerge, are widely distributed to a consuming public and are tested later for health and safety implications.

Make it, use it, test it later for possible harm.

Note: For more on Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles and health implications see Inhalation Exposure Study of Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles with a Primary Particle Size of 2 to 5 nm at Environmental Health Perspectives. The abstract of the 2007 article states as background:

Nanotechnology offers great promise in many industrial applications. However, little is known about the health effects of manufactured nanoparticles, the building blocks of nanomaterials.

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