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Earth Medicine Science

Graphene Could Be Dangerous To Humans and the Environment 135

Zothecula (1870348) writes "It's easy to get carried away when you start talking about graphene. Its properties hold the promise of outright technological revolution in so many fields that it has been called a wonder material. Two recent studies, however, give us a less than rosy angle. In the first, a team of biologists, engineers and material scientists at Brown University examined graphene's potential toxicity in human cells. Another study by a team from University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering examined how graphene oxide nanoparticles might interact with the environment if they found their way into surface or ground water sources."
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Graphene Could Be Dangerous To Humans and the Environment

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  • Grey goo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kruach aum ( 1934852 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:41AM (#46887503)

    Ever since I first heard about the idea of grey goo, I've always wondered why no-one realises that grey goo already exists: they're called bacteria and viruses. They reproduce unchecked, can have catastrophic consequences for all other forms of life, and are largely carbon-based nano-machines.

  • Wonder material (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:01AM (#46887573)

    A wonder material that turns out to be extremely dangerous?

    You don't say?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:15AM (#46887617)

    The biological properties of lead were very well known.
    Didn't keep people from adding it to fuel and blowing it out of the tail pipes of virtually every car for a couple of decades.
    This time it's nano materials.
    The only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history.

  • "Could* *be"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @07:08AM (#46887769)
    Come back when you can say "is" or "isn't". Until then, this doesn't even qualify as tabloid-worthy. It's not even a supposition, as that would require you to state an opinion either way, regardless of how ill informed.
  • Re:One word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by delt0r ( 999393 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @07:10AM (#46887781)
    Yea so its going to turn all the other elements into carbon? Its going dissipate its heat how?

    The laws of physics, the way the universe works in other words, precludes a grey goo any worse than we already have. aka bacteria.
  • by AlecC ( 512609 ) <> on Thursday May 01, 2014 @07:17AM (#46887801)

    It is hardly surprising that graphene can, in some circumstances, be dangerous. Exhaust particulates, which he have known for years are dangerous, contain (now we know what we are looking for) large numbers of graphene nanoparticles, which may well contribute to their damaging effects. Just about every chemical ever tested has bad effects at some scale. What I didn't get from either article was any sense of the scale of the danger. Obviously, it is early days in the research, and one would only expect an order of magnitude estimate. But is is such a danger that we should not allow graphene products into the home lest they spill, or merely one which demands normal safety precautions in the factories for future graphene products? A warning of danger without some idea of the scale of the problem is just sensationalist: it induces fear without giving any idea as to what should be done, if anything,

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @07:45AM (#46887875)

    Begging your pardon, but isn't the fact that graphene is being studied for low-level toxicity and environmental impacts before it's in actual use evidence that we have, in fact, learned from history?

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.