Nanotechnologies: Where should they take us? Have your say

Sport

Nanotechnology and Sport

  • From bicycles to swimsuits, nanotechnology can be used in almost every sport to improve the performance of competitors.

  • Tennis racquet

    Picture source: nanoyou.eu

    You can buy tennis racquets that incorporate extreme tough and strong nanoscale fibres. These nanoscale fibres are mixed into the usual material that rackets are made of and lend them some of their extreme toughness without changing other characteristics of the materials. These nano-fibre composites are similar to the carbon-fibre ones that have been available for some years but specially designed to be both lighter and stronger than carbon-fibre racquets.

  • Nanotechnology surfboard

    Picture source: Wikipedia

    Nano coatings allow surfboards to be lighter, more powerful and durable against impact.

  • Non-smelly socks

    Picture source: nanoyou.eu

    Nowadays thanks to nanotechnologies silver nanoparticles can be invisibly embedded in many materials, including fabrics, where their anti-bacterial effect is useful. Silver nanoparticles in socks eliminate the bacteria which cause smelly feet and fungal infections.

  • Swimsuit

    Picture source: Wiktionary

    One of the first examples of nanotechnologies making a difference in the world of sport was at the 2008 Olympics, where manufactures introduced a new swimsuit that could repel water and increase buoyancy.
    The suits have led to nearly 200 world records, but gave a special advantage to those who wore them. This is the reason that from 2010 swimmers are banned worldwide from wearing polyurethane and neoprene suits during competition.

  • Innovative textiles

    Picture source: Wiktionary

    Sporty garments in pure cotton featuring nano-silver deliver an anti-bacterial effect and help counter the formation of unpleasant sweaty odours.
    Other innovative textiles have fibres specially engineered with nanomaterials that make the textile dirt-repellent: if you spill a coffee onto these t-shirts, they don’t get stained!

    Other innovative textiles have fibres specially engineered with nanomaterials that make the textile dirt-repellent: if you spill a coffee onto these t-shirts, they don’t get stained!

  • Potential risks

    People have known about the anti-bacterial properties of silver for centuries. Even the Romans used it to dress wounds. This nanomaterial is also currently employed in many dressings as a treatment for external wounds, burns and ulcers; as coating over embedded medical devices, inhibiting the development of bacteria; in disinfectant sprays and polymer coatings as protective against viral infections. Many consumer products are emerging in the market containing nanosilver, because nanosilver (like silver) has anti-bacterial properties and, as opposed to conventional silver, it is transparent. Nanosilver has many beneficial uses, but its benefits must be balanced over the risk of dispersing silver nanoparticles in the environment. Some say we should avoid over-use of silver (in any form) in consumer products, as this might induce bacterial resistance in the environment. This would add to our existing problems with harmful bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. Others worry that when textiles containing nanosilver are washed they can release nanosilver in wastewater in quantities that can be harmful to animals or plants.

    Currently there isn’t a specific regulation on the use of nanosilver in consumer products; however in 2012 the European Parliament discussed a proposal for an EU Regulation concerning this issue; according to this proposal, where nanomaterials are used in a product, the risk to the environment and to health should be assessed separately. The issue of “if” and “how” to regulate nanosilver is common to many countries, like US, Japan, Australia.

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About nanopinion

  • nanopinion is an EC-funded project bringing together 17 partners from 11 countries with the aim of monitoring public opinion on what we hope from innovation with nanotechnologies. The project is aimed citizens with a special focus on hard-to-reach target groups, which are people who do not normally encounter and give their opinion nanotechnologies at first hand.
  • Dialogue is facilitated online and in outreach events in 30 countries presenting different participatory formats.
  • To promote an informed debate, we also run a strong press & social media campaign and offer a repository with more than 150 resources.
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