Nanotechnology is not without risks

Nanotechnology is not without risks

Nanotechnology research is executed all over the world and has thrown some light on the inherent risks also in applications such as clothing and technical textiles

Empa Materials, Science & Technology (CH) and other European specialists evaluated ten years of nano-technology risk research and is noting that there is a growing lack of specialists for studies in the field of nano(eco)toxicology and claims additionally that there are gaps of knowledge. All of the research work is based on how nanomaterials could be used without putting environment and human health at risk.

Empa has with Harald Krug a very reputed nanotoxicologist in its team and he was recently involved in two reports on a decade of research in this field. German Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (DECHEMA) in German and the Chemical Industry Association (VCI) established a 60 page report in English (“Impact of Engineered Nanomaterials on Health: Considerations for Benefit-Risk Assessment”, September 2011) of reviewing internationally conducted research projects on the subject of nanosafety (40 from Germany, 25 EU and six Swiss projects). One of the Swiss investigation was a case for Empa to find out whether nanoparticles can pass through the human placenta and enter the circulatory system of an unborn baby. The answer was that particles with diameters of less than 200 to 300 nm could pass through into the fetal bloodstream but unanswered is the question as to its effect on the development of the unborn child.

The second report – with important contributions by Harald Krug – was recently presented in Brussels (B) by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) and focusing on the gaps of scientific knowledge and pointing to the topics of research needed in the coming years. Krug’s foremost wish is that there should be more investment in education and training in environmental toxicology in order to secure responsible research in this field and to guarantee the sustainable development of these new technologies in the future.

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