19 May 2011
On the 12th May the NanoSustain partners organised their first public dissemination event in Glasgow, UK, where individuals from government, academic health and safety, industry, and other EU initiatives, joined in a lively debate about current nanosafety research activities and what knowledge gaps remain. One of the main issues is that research results are often based on quite different starting materials, making comparison difficult.
While the project is still at an early stage it presented preliminary results: physical and chemical characterisation of the dust particles from sanding painted boards; physiological responses to these particles; incineration of ground glass; and composting of nanocellulose papers. In addition, a useful database of research literature on the chosen materials has been created for use by the partners, and members of the EU’s cluster on nanosafety research. This includes specific information on the characteristics of nanomaterials studied and the experimental procedures to improve comparison between different sets of data.
Those attending also heard about other activities, such as the UK government agency responsible for health and safety (the Health and Safety Executive) review of current best practice in industry and academia, the UK’s Universities Health and Safety Association plans to provide guidance on the safe handling of nanomaterials, and initiatives at an EU level including the NanoSafety Cluster and NANOfutures.
Consensus was that there is significant research and public funding going into this area; however, a clear platform for international coordination and general guidance based on current knowledge written in plain language are still needed. For the former the OECD was proposed as a suitable body to lead international efforts, while the creation of simple factsheets summarising knowledge and safe handling of each nanomaterial would be of immense benefit to the wider community.
The NanoSustain consortium will continue with their exciting research over the remaining two years of the project, coordinating closely with both the Nanosafety Cluster and NANOfutures initiatives. A second public dissemination event will take place in Spring 2012 providing the full results and any important conclusions for the future use of these potentially immensely beneficial nanomaterials.