Whitepaper evaluates opportunities and risks of nanomaterials

(Nanowerk News) How can the risk assessment of nanomaterials be harmonised while at the same time exploiting the full potential of nanotechnology? A whitepaper, recently published in the journal Small ("Risk Governance of Emerging Technologies Demonstrated in Terms of its Applicability to Nanomaterials"), gives an overview of the current state of the art in risk assessment of nanomaterials and provides the theoretical basis for the development and implementation of an effective and transparent risk management framework.
In recent years, nanomaterials have gained considerable importance, particularly in catalysis, medicine, electronics and materials research. However, the rapid development of nanotechnology as a key technology for many economic sectors has also raised some concerns about possible hazards and risks to human health and the environment.
In order to exploit the potential and benefits of nanotechnology for industry, energy, environment, health and other sectors in a responsible manner, appropriate risk assessment approaches need to be established. The development of a generally accepted framework is therefore essential to clearly support regulatory decisions with robust scientific results and data.
This framework should, on the one hand, adequately address the currently known challenges in terms of risk and innovation assessment, while, on the other hand, being flexible enough to do justice to the innovative character of nanotechnology.
This need for harmonization is precisely what the whitepaper "Risk governance of emerging technologies demonstrated in terms of its applicability to nanomaterials" addresses. It was written by a group of experts of the EU project RiskGONE around the researcher Dr. Panagiotis Isigonis from the Ca Foscari University in Venice / Italy.
The paper provides an overview of the current state of the art in risk assessment of nanomaterials and also describes the theoretical basis for the development and implementation of an effective and transparent risk management framework. The authors emphasize that despite the considerable progress in risk assessment of nanomaterials, there is still an urgent need for a reliable methodology for risk management. Within the Horizon2020 programme, the EU has therefore initiated the creation of a "Risk Governance Council" as a European body in conjunction with a "Risk Governance Framework", which will be created through the joint efforts of the three projects Gov4Nano, NANORIGO and RiskGONE. In these projects altogether 82 partners from 17 European countries as well as Brazil, India, Iran, Switzerland, South Africa, South Korea and USA are involved.
The projects will be funded until February 2023 and the financial budget is 18.3 million Euros. Furthermore, this initiative is supported by the three nanoinformatics projects NanoCommons, NanoSolveIT and NanoInformaTIX, which develop the models and prediction tools to be used for the risk assessment of nanomaterials.
The establishment of the Risk Governance Council and the associated harmonisation of the risk assessment of nanomaterials should enable the EU Member States to fully exploit the economic potential of nanotechnology on a broad basis.
Source: DECHEMA
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