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Huge potential for nanomaterials – but how do we guarantee their safety?

Scientists from across Europe will be meeting to discuss the safety of nanomaterials on the 7-9th February 2017 in Malaga, Spain. The event, called “New tools and approaches for nanomaterial safety assessment”, is jointly organised by five major EC-funded projects NANOSOLUTIONS, SUN, NanoMILE, GUIDEnano, and eNanoMapper. Experts from these research projects will present the main results of their work and discuss the impact this has had on the safety of nanomaterials.

Engineered nanomaterials (ENM) - defined as having at least one dimension smaller than 100nm - have attracted a great deal of interest during recent years, due to their many technologically interesting properties. The unique properties of ENM and their applications have given birth to immense technological and economic expectations for industries using ENM. It is estimated that there are already around 1,500 nano-enabled products commercially available and this figure is growing by around 200 every year in a market said to be worth between €5-10 billion. However, some of these properties have given rise to concerns that they may be harmful to humans. As such, creating commercial products using ENM requires rigorous testing and there are many barriers to overcome. Current legislation that governs the safety classification of ENM in Europe is complex. Each ENM has to be treated as a separate chemical and be individually tested to assess its safety characteristics. This means developing new materials using different nanoparticles is both time-consuming and expensive. Testing just one nano particle to assess its impact on human and environmental health takes in the region of two years, while further life-cycle analysis (LCA) to assess how a particle may behave over the lifespan of a particular product can further delay product development. Consequently, there is a real need for ways to reduce the amount of individual testing of ENM that is currently occurring, as this will help reduce the cost of developing ENM-based products and speed up innovation. Speeding up this testing process will have a dramatic impact on the European economy, while also safeguarding the health of European workers, citizens, wildlife and the environment. This is why scientists involved in the Malaga meeting are developing techniques that will dramatically speed up the testing process for ENM by up to 30 times using cutting edge systems biology approaches and high throughput screening methods. While the individual projects have been working on novel approaches, it is hoped that by working together, the group will be able to greatly enhance Europe’s nano industry by improving: • Hazard assessment along the life cycle of nano products • Exposure assessment along the life cycle of nano products • Risk assessment and management • Systems biology approaches in nanosafety • Categorisation and grouping of nanomaterials • Nanosafety infrastructure • Safety by design For more information about the conference or further details about the safety of nanomaterials, please contact Harry O’Neill, Insight Publishers on +44117 2033 120 or email Interviews are available with leading European nano experts.


ENM, nanomaterials, nanosafety, nanosafety classifier, nanosolutions, Nanomile, eNanomapper, Guidenano, SUN, LCA, High throughput screening, systems biology, safety by design


Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Türkiye, United Kingdom, United States, South Africa