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Nanoscience and nanotechnology have for a long time now been extremely interesting in terms of the development of new materials. Due to their small size (between 1 nm and 100 nm), materials in the so-called nanoform or nanosize have special physical and chemical properties and a large specific surface area (i.e. a large surface area in relation to volume). Nanomaterials are increasingly used in cosmetic, textile, food and construction industries as well as in medicine. This means that we are already seeing commercially available nanosize materials such as titanium dioxide, silver and silicon dioxide in our homes. Titanium dioxide is added to a broad range of products. It is very often found in cosmetic products such as powders and creams, particularly in sunscreens, which protect us from UV light. TiO2 scatters and reflects unwanted UV rays. It is found in food in micro and nano sizes – as the additive called E171. It is also used as a bleaching agent in the coating of chewing gums and in sweets, dry foods, etc. Increasingly, it is gaining prominence as a self-cleaning coating for windows and facades. TiO2 becomes hydrophilic under UV light and does not soak the surface, which prevents misting and simultaneously cleans the surface.
In medicine, nanomaterials are increasingly used as radiocontrast agents in nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and for delivery of active substances. The latter uses magnetic nanoparticles whose surface has been processed so as to bind the active substance to it. These magnetic particles can then be led to the affected area using an external magnet.
Besides the numerous positive properties of nanomaterials, we should, however, also take note of the negative aspects of these small particles. Nanotechnology is a very complex field, and we often encounter various nanomaterials unknowingly. Since they are present everywhere, we can ingest or inhale them, or they can enter our body through the pores of the skin. Due to the possibilities listed above, researchers are not only developing new nanomaterials but also studying the impact nanoparticles have on our body and health. Studying the toxicity of nanomaterials tells us what happens to them in our body and whether they can harm us.