Nanoclays (clay minerals) can be extracted from natural sources and used thereafter. The layered structure enables the material to either swell or shrink depending on its uptake capacity for water. In addition nanoclays are not flammable and the plastics industry uses this feature to improve fire safety of their products. Integrating nanoclays into the plastic reduces drastically the amount of combustible material and if the plastic material is on fire a protective is layer is formed preventing the spreading of the fire.
Further applications include nanoclays as additives in food contact materials which reduce the oxygen transport across the film and consequently enhance the lifetime of foodstuffs.
How can I come into contact with this material?
Since nanoclays are mainly used as auxiliaries and firmly embedded in synthetic materials such as flame retardants there is no danger to get into direct contact with nanoclays.
Is there any risk from this material to humans and the environment?
Inhalation of nanoclay particles has been shown to cause only minimal and transient inflammation of lung tissue.
So far there are no data available on the behaviour of nanoclays in the environment. Since nanoclays are generated from naturally occurring sources it is difficult to distinguish between the natural and synthetic form of this material.
Nanoclays are considered to be harmless and are mainly used in flame retardant products.
By the way….
- Nanoclays are a good example of naturally occurring nanomaterials.