Nanoparticles, reduced health and environmental risks with the SUN project
Is it possible to assess risks and take appropriate preventive measures for the use of nanoparticles in consumer products?
The answer comes from the results of the SUN-Sustainable Nanotechnologies Project, funded with 13 million euro by the European Commission. The researchers completed one of the first attempts to understand what health and environmental risks may be associated with nanoparticles by analysing the entire life cycle of the products that contain them, from production to disposal, up to recycling.
After three years of research and discussion with the world of production, a team of more than 100 scientists from 25 research institutions and industries in 12 European countries – coordinated by Antonio Marcomini from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice – have tested and made available an online decision support platform, which can help industries and regulatory and control bodies to assess all possible risks related to the use of these materials on a ‘nano’ scale.
“These results, disseminated in over 140 research papers”, said Danail Hristozov, Principal Investigator of the project and a researcher at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, “have been immediately taken up by industries and regulators and will inevitably have great impact on developing safer and more sustainable nanotechnologies and on regulating their risks”.
Among the best-known materials, the researchers studied in detail the silver nanoparticles used in the textile industry and the multi-walled carbon nanotubes used for marine coatings and automotive parts. They also focused on car pigments and silica anti-caking agents used in foods in order to understand the risk and identify appropriate preventive measures.
The guidelines developed by the SUN project for products and production processes are published on the website www.sun.fp7.eu.