Inproceedings: An article in a conference proceedings.
Coordination and collaboration in European research towards healthy and safe nanomaterials
Title of the conference
Nanosafe 2010: International Conference on Safe Production and Use of Nanomaterials
Journal of Physics Conference Series
Nanotechnology is becoming part of our daily life in a wide range of products such as computers, bicycles, sunscreens or nanomedicines. While these applications already become reality, considerable work awaits scientists, engineers, and policy makers, who want such nanotechnological products to yield a maximum of benefit at a minimum of social, environmental, economic and (occupational) health cost. Considerable efforts for coordination and collaboration in research are needed if one wants to reach these goals in a reasonable time frame and an affordable price tag. This is recognized in Europe by the European Commission which funds not only research projects but also supports the coordination of research efforts. One of these coordination efforts is NanoImpactNet, a researcher-operated network, which started in 2008 promote scientific cross-talk across all disciplines on the health and environmental impact of nanomaterials. Stakeholders contribute to these activities, notably the definition of research and knowledge needs. Initial discussions in this domain focused on finding an agreement on common metrics, and which elements are needed for standardized approaches for hazard and exposure identification. There are many nanomaterial properties that may play a role. Hence, to gain the time needed to study this complex matter full of uncertainties, researchers and stakeholders unanimously called for simple, easy and fast risk assessment tools that can support decision making in this rapidly moving and growing domain. Today, several projects are starting or already running that will develop such assessment tools. At the same time, other projects investigate in depth which factors and material properties can lead to unwanted toxicity or exposure, what mechanisms are involved and how such responses can be predicted and modelled. A vision for the future is that once these factors, properties and mechanisms are understood, they can and will be accounted for in the development of new products and production processes following the idea of "Safety by Design". The promise of all these efforts is a future with nanomaterials where most of their risks are recognized and addressed before they even reach the market.
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