Carbon nanotubes and other microscopic particles are increasingly part of consumer goods. They’re also being found in organisms up and down the food chain.
Nanotechnology is spurring a new industrial revolution. The process of engineering materials on an incredibly small scale—a human hair is about 80,000 nanometers wide—has led to advancements in everything from electronics to paint to cosmetics to clothes. But their small size also poses a threat as a new type of pollution: nanomaterials can easily end up in the environment, get into living organisms, and make their way through the food chain, new research shows.