There are many unique health benefits of nanoparticles; molecular imaging uses nanoparticles that help to detect, quantify, and display molecular and cellular changes that happen in vitro and in vivo. Nanoparticles can be used as probes by attaching them to molecules of proteins, antibodies, and nucleic acids. These nanoparticles can then be used as tools for displaying and quantifying molecular reactions inside the body. They have high photostability, high levels of brightness, and absorption coefficients across a broad spectral range.
Site-specific-targeted drug delivery using nanoparticles is more effective for improved bioavailability, minimal side effects, decreased toxicity to other organs, and is less costly.
The exciting potential use of nanoparticles in cancer treatments is the exploration of tumor-specific thermal scalpels to heat and burn tumors. By using near infrared-absorbing polyethylene-coated gold nanoshells of 130 nm, it can be used to inhibit the growth of a tumor.
Gold and silver nanoparticles have strong antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and are used in anti-wrinkle creams, deodorants, and burn medications. They are inert, highly stable, biocompatible, and non-cytotoxic.
The toxicity of nanoparticles depends on their surface properties, coating, structure, size, and ability to aggregate. If nanoparticles have poor solubility they can cause cancer. This is because the nanoparticles have a greater surface area to volume ratio which increases the chemical and biological reactivity.
The nanoparticles can enter the body through many routes; dermally, by ingestion, inhalation, injection, or by implantation. Nanoparticles enter dermally when they are present in skincare products, hair products, or lip balms including sunscreens and anti-wrinkle cream.
The cosmetic products need no clinical trials but have the maximum number of products with nanoparticles. The nanoparticles in these products have been reported to cause erythema, cobalt, and chromium nanoparticles to cross the skin barrier and damage fibroblasts.
Many mechanisms have been proposed to explain the adverse effects which may lead to cardiopulmonary morbidity and mortality in populations exposed to nanoparticles. Nanoparticles can stimulate the neurons in the lung affecting the central nervous system and cardiovascular autonomic function. When NPS gain access to the circulation, they can trigger an acute inflammatory reaction, as these particles are recognized and identified by the immune system of the body as “invader” particles. The immune system starts releasing cytokines which is a chemical substance usually released whenever the body is exposed to foreign materials. These particles cause a reaction in the lung same as any pollutant or inflammatory substances, sometimes also affecting the reactive oxygen species (ROS), in extreme situations can trigger cardiac events.
Every scientist using Nanoparticles or being exposed to them should use protection such as a mask, gloves, etc. while working with the nanomaterials. They should also be careful about the disposal of these materials once experiments are completed to ensure that these harmful particles do not enter the environment and exacerbate the new classification of pollution, nano pollution.
WHO has already listed a series of health implications on exposure to NPs. But how large is the risk and what should the regulation and policies be that have not yet been formulated.