Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Improving the understanding of the impact of nanoparticles on human health and the environment (IMPART) - Publishable Executive Summary

Project ID: 13968
Funded under: FP6-NMP


Nanotechnology is finding increased application in today's society and is being hailed as the next industrial revolution. Companies around the world are beginning to mass-produce nanoparticles (particles less than 100 nm in size) for use in everything from sunscreens to soil reclamation. The production of anthropogenically-derived nanoparticles will inevitably result in the introduction of these materials to the environment. However, despite rapid advances in nanotechnology, knowledge of the potential risks of nanoparticles to human health and the environment is limited. There is a concern that "size matters" with respect to toxicity, irrespective of the chemical composition. There are fears that materials that are biologically inert in bulk tend to become harmful in ultrafine particle form. Analogies have been drawn, for example, on the similarity of the structure of carbon nanotubes to asbestos fibres, whose detrimental effects on human health are well documented. There is a need to encourage greater understanding of the short and long term implications of nanotechnology for health and the environment.
The primary aim of IMPART is to prevent knowledge of the health and environmental implications of nanoparticles from lagging behind the technological advances. In order to do this, IMPART will foster communication links between numbers of regional, national and international initiatives in order to reduce duplication of effort, pool expertise and facilitate co-operation between networks. This will result in an improvement in the understanding of the potential impact of nanoparticles on human health and the environment.

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