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Best practices for handling nanoparticles in packaging

Intensive testing on nanomaterials and nanofillers used in packaging can help the industry adopt best practices to strengthen health and safety for handlers and end users.
Best practices for handling nanoparticles in packaging
Nanoparticles are proving to be very useful in the packaging industry, particularly with the development of polymer nanocomposites, yielding stronger and more resistant packaging overall. However, possible effects of nanomaterials on the environment and human health are opening debates on the topic, prompting a need to apply the technology in a safe manner. This was the objective of the EU-funded project NANOSAFEPACK (Development of a best practices guide for the safe handling and use of nanoparticles in packaging industries).

Specifically, the project aimed to provide clearer information on environmental, health and safety issues regarding the use of nanofillers in the packaging industry, from production to disposal. It investigated measures and best practices to promote job safety, diminishing both consumer health risks and environmental hazards.

This was achieved by identifying the specific physical and chemical properties of fillers and polymeric matrices used in packaging materials. Toxicological studies were conducted on silver, nano-clays, silicon dioxide, zinc oxide and calcium carbonate nanoparticles, outlining the severity of their hazards as well. In this way, the team identified which nanocomposites were more likely to leak nanofillers into packaged food.

As a result of its studies, NANOSAFEPACK successfully outlined which type of masks and gloves to use in working with nanofillers. It also specified how to reduce environmental impacts and save on raw materials, based on the life-cycle assessments conducted. All these best practices have been combined in a guide on safe handling and use of nanofillers in packaging industries. Available in soft or hard versions, the guide can be obtained from the project partners.

Related information


Nanoparticles, packaging, nanofillers, health and safety, polymer nanocomposites, polymeric matrices
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