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Safety of Nanomaterials

DSC_4915.jpg  Staining platform deck with '96' head Nanotechnology is doubtless one of the most important scientific developments in the last decade and offers advantages and benefits to manufacturers and consumers alike. 
The properties and performance of this technology however are not fully understood at this stage and it is important that all applications of nanosciences and nanotechnologies must comply with a high level of public health, safety and environmental protection.

The Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) is at the heart of EU efforts towards a better understanding and assessment of nanotechnology and participates in various collaborative research projects with European and international partners. The results of this work on the safety of nanomaterials are fed into the database maintained by the Institute. The knowledge derived from this work is an important source of reference for the legislative process. It supports the future development and safe application of nanotechnology in an appropriate regulatory framework.

The Institute's activities in the area of safety of nanomaterials are essentially concerned with tasks to support policy implementation including the assessment of methods and strategies for testing the safety of nanomaterials' properties. The work is closely connected to the OECD Test Guidelines programme and the Working Parties for Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN) and for Nanotechnology (WPN), where for WPMN the IHCP is performing number of key tasks to ensure coherence with European policy requirements and the international framework and Mutual acceptance of data agreement (MAD). The Institute also collaborates closely with CEN TC 352 and ISO TC 229 regarding Work Items related to characterisation and testing of nanomaterials. In addition, the work addresses issues arising from the requirements according to European policy, as laid down in regulation (EC) 1907/2006, for environment, cosmetics, consumer products and food and feed.


Complex effects of nanomaterials
The biological effects of some nanomaterial types have already been investigated in animals and humans, particularly those occurring naturally in the environment through combustion processes, where studies have focused on exposure via inhalation. These results highlight the complexity of assessing the safety of engineered nanomaterials. Chemicals in their nanoparticle form have properties that are completely different from their larger physical forms and may therefore interact differently with biological systems. The same material may have different toxicological properties dependent on the size of particles (even within the nano range). As a result, it is necessary to assess the risks arising from any nanoparticle that may potentially come in contact with humans, other species or the environment, even if the toxicology of the chemicals that make up the nanoparticle is well known. Other important variables relate to particle shape, chemical composition, surface reactivity, bio-persistence etc. Moreover, the method of exposure e.g. via inhalation, ingestion or skin contact, as well as the response and susceptibility of the cells exposed, are significant additional factors.


Effects on humans
The Institute has the capacity to synthesize nanomaterials of varying sizes and shapes as well as to culture standardised human cells in the laboratory. It is able to use this to investigate the effects of nanomaterials on human cells and proteins.
In particular, the Institute's specialised experimental facilities enable the production of radio-labelled nanoparticles for directly monitoring the uptake and fate of nanoparticles in cells. In addition, the Institute is developing automated testing platforms and processes to allow efficient and reliable screening of potentially hazardous nanomaterials.
Through this work the Institute is able to assess methods and strategies for testing the safety of nanomaterials' properties to health. The work builds on the Test Guidelines programme of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

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News: Highlights
New JRC report discusses labelling and reporting schemes for nanomaterials in consumer products in the EU
New JRC report discusses labelling and reporting schemes for nanomaterials in consumer products in the EU - May 19, 2014

JRC experts provide an overview on how EU legislation addresses nanomaterials, and recapitulate issues relevant for the on-going discussion on transparency and requests for more information regarding the use of nanomaterials in consumer products

Nanotechnology
Quantitative determination of the biodistribution of nanoparticles: could radiolabelling be the answer?
Quantitative determination of the biodistribution of nanoparticles: could radiolabelling be the answer? - Nov 08, 2013

In a recent article co-authored by CIC biomaGUNE (San Sebastian, Spain) and JRC, scientists from ...

Nanotechnology
EU-FP7 NANoREG project gets under way
EU-FP7 NANoREG project gets under way - Aug 09, 2013

JRC participates in the FP7 project developing a common European approach to the regulatory testing ...

Nanotechnology
Nanoparticle radiolabelling: Joint Research Centre contributes to QualityNano project providing "transnational access" to MC40 Cyclotron
Nanoparticle radiolabelling: Joint Research Centre contributes to QualityNano project providing "transnational access" to MC40 Cyclotron - Jun 06, 2013

Studies on plant uptake with radioactive nanoparticles

Nanoparticles
JRC scientists contribute to 'Concern-driven integrated approaches to nanomaterial testing and assessment'
JRC scientists contribute to 'Concern-driven integrated approaches to nanomaterial testing and assessment' - Jun 04, 2013

New publication aims at identifying key areas for further research on risk assessment methodologies ...

Nanotechnology
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News: Publications
Updated list of materials in the JRC Nanomaterials Repository - Oct 27, 2011
Health-EU Newsletter on "Nanomaterials" - Nov 25, 2010
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News: Multimedia
Watch our videoclip "Small materials, big impact" - Oct 17, 2011
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Deliverables: Reports
JRC Technical Report and Presentations: Symposium 'Safety issues and regulatory challenges of nanomaterials', May 2012 - Feb 02, 2013 - Jan 02, 2013
Joint JRC-EASAC Report "Impact of engineered nanomaterials on health: considerations for benefit-risk assessment" - Oct 18, 2011
Report of Workshop "Early Harvest of Research Results on Nanosafety" - Sep 13, 2010
JRC Reference Report: 'Considerations on a definition of nanomaterial for regulatory purposes' - Jul 23, 2010
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Related Areas
Nanotechnology
Watch our video "Small materials, big impact"
 

The video, issued in October 2011, illustrates JRC activities in support to safety assessment of nanomaterials in consumer products.

Watch it on You Tube, JRC channel