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Posted: Jan 23, 2015
SUN organizes successful 1st Sustainable Nanotechnology School
(Nanowerk News) The Sustainable Nanotechnologies (SUN) project has successfully hosted the first Sustainable Nanotechnology School, with over 70 participants coming from all over Europe, United States and Brazil and 21 speakers chosen among the most prominent experts on environmental, health and safety (EHS) implications and sustainable applications of nanomaterials. Commercial products containing nanomaterials were the protagonists of the lessons: They promise innovations but also pose questions regarding their effects on the human health and the environment.
“Imagine a new nanotechnology for the treatment of cancer, which probably would cause damage to the environment” – says Igor Linkov, Director of research at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and member of the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center – “Nanomaterials can potentially revolutionize medicine, but their impact on the environment is unknown and so the question is: How do we balance risks, economic and social benefits of nanotechnologies, taking into account the interests of their developers, producers, end-users and the general public?”
The attendees of the School had the opportunity to find answers to this question thanks to the experience of scientists who have long worked in this research field. Among the speakers were Antonio Marcomini, director of the Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics & Statistics, hosting the school at University Ca’ Foscari Venice and also representatives of the European Commission (Brussels) and its Joint Research Centre (Ispra), Georgios Katalagarianakis and Hugues Crutzen, respectively.
Organized by the major European FP7 projects SUN (Sustainable Nanotechnologies), GUIDEnano, MARINA, and the MODENA Cost Action, the School proofed not only a very successful collaboration among these initiatives, but also gave the participating young researchers a chance to learn from the experience of leading experts in the field.
One of them is Danail Hristozov, the Principal Investigator of the EU FP7 SUN project, who commented “The current uncertainties around the EHS risks of nanomaterials are raising societal concerns that can block the benefits from nanotechnologies. The introduction of unsafe nanoproducts to the market can cause enormous economic costs for the enterprises in the form of over-balancing regulations and demolished consumer confidence. In order to avoid such liabilities, sound scientific analysis of the nanomaterials’ EHS risks is required, taking into consideration all stages of their life cycles in order to protect the safety of workers, downstream users, consumers, ecosystems, and the general public. Therefore, there is a growing demand across both the public and private sectors for nano-EHS research experts. This school aims to contribute to the training of this new generation of creative and innovative young researchers, able to face the above challenges and to convert the resulting multidisciplinary knowledge and ideas into products and services for economic and social benefit”.
The scientific community in the field of sustainability of nanotechnology will gather again in Venice for two other important events. The first will be the Sustainable Nanotechnology Conference 2015, organized by the projects SUN and GUIDEnano and the American Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization from 9th to 11th March 2015. After that, from 12th to 13th March 2015, a workshop of the EU-US Communities of Research: Bridging Nano-EHS Research Efforts will be hosted by SUN at University Ca’ Foscari Venice. This two-day workshop is co-organised and supported by the US National Nanotechnology Initiative and the European Commission.