AZoNano: Yeah Sure, Prove It!

Kristin: Every month I receive a newsletter from the, a website collating, publishing and promoting the best of the world’s nanotechnology innovation. In this month’s newsletter, I really enjoyed the following article on consumer product claims and their editor Andy Choi has given us permission to reproduce it here:

Nanothoughts – Nanotech Super Products – Yeah Sure, Prove It!

I bumped into some nanotechnology at the shops the other day. I was in need of a new dish brush for washing the dishes and was quite open minded about what I was going to purchase. Unlike Apple iPods, Coca-Cola and Levi’s 501s I find the dish brush market isn’t strong on brand loyalty. My only prerequisite to making a purchase was that, if possible, I wanted a locally made brush. Alas, that wasn’t to be. Although the last time I bought a dish brush I could buy a locally produced one, all that is currently on offer are ‘Made in China’ and globally ubiquitous. The supermarket has been going through some brand consolidation of late and I also only had one brand to choose from.

From the brushes I liked the look of, it came down to two brushes. The first was an ordinary generic looking dish brush. The second, at double the price, had the same style cleaning head but with a fancy, schmancy padded, ergonomic handle with a nanotech boost from antibacterial silver ions in the bristles. I’ve read the data. I know how nano silver can kill the nasties that undoubtedly populate my dirty washing – particularly the stained old chopping board. Don’t get me started about the chopping board. The problem is, I really don’t care. I wash the dishes in hot water and let them air dry in a bright sunny spot. I’m confident they are clean and non-toxic when put back in the cupboard. I can’t see the germs but I’m confident I’ve washed them away to the best of my abilities. On the other hand I also can’t see the nanosilver in the brush bristles. I had no part in making the brush so how do I know they are actually in there? I can’t test for it. Even if they are present, when I do the washing up, how do I know if my premium priced nanosilver bristles have destroyed any more pathogens than were eradicated with hot soapy water? I am also not scared of occasionally ingesting an occasional nasty bug. I’m fit, I’m healthy and in the words of Friedrich Nietzsche “that which does not kill us makes us stronger”. If I was buying a shirt that used nanotechnology to make it stainproof, I’d be readily able to test the effectiveness of the product and would likely be willing to pay a premium for it. As for the antibacterial properties of nanosilver, why would I pay extra for something that I have no way of knowing if it is even present in the product, let alone if it actually works better than my current product. Forget scare campaigns about getting nanotech products off shop shelves before they destroy the world. Unless manufacturers can prove the products actually are worth the additional expense, they’ll disappear from the shelves because no-one will buy them.

Yes, I bought the old style, dull, generic brush and my dishes haven’t given me food poisoning. It’s my cooking that’ll do that!

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