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Safety of health and environment

The Nanosafety Cluster, is an initiative from the European Commission, DG Research & Innovation, "Industrial Technologies" Programme. It's aim is to maximise synergies between research projects on an EU or national level addressing all aspects of nanosafety including toxicology, ecotoxicology, exposure assessment, mechanisms of interaction, risk assessment and standardisation. More info (of which a compendium of projects outcomes) on www.nanosafetycluster.eu.

Engineered nanomaterials (ENs) present tremendous opportunities for industrial growth and development, and hold great promise for the enrichment of the lives of citizens, in medicine, electronics and numerous other areas. However, there are considerable gaps in our knowledge concerning the potential hazardous effects of ENs on human health and on the environment. The nanoscale, which allows for new beneficial properties also open the doors to new or different potential hazards. Because nanotechnology is so novel and complex, there may be real difficulties to single out, quantify and manage the potential risks that might be involved, especially the long-term ones. As for all nanotechnology applications, the main key concerns are centered around the potential health and environmental hazards of nanoparticles and nanomaterials and the corresponding ELSA issues.

The effects of engineered nanoparticle and nanomaterials are being thoroughly investigated. With a better understanding of nanoparticle toxicology, of their fate and behaviour and of the life cycle of nanomaterial-embedded products the potential hazards can be minimised for consumers, workers and the environment and proper risk management be developed. This research will be useful for public and occupational health as well as for the successfulness and sustainability of the nanotechnology industry.