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Posted: Sep 25, 2013
A pan-European infrastructure for quality in nanomaterials safety testing
(Nanowerk News) Researchers are developing testing procedures and a European framework to assess the safety of nanomaterials. These should ensure that the benefits and innovations to be gained from the use of nanotechnologies can be realised safely without damage to human health and the environment.
Engineered materials of sizes of nanometers can be used for many revolutionary applications in areas as diverse as energy storage, electronics, paintings and sport equipment. Moreover, nano-scale objects have sizes comparable to that of proteins and viruses, thus can interact with living organisms in a fundamentally new manner. This holds great potential for the application of nanotechnologies in medicine, as nanoparticles may be used for the transport of drugs in the treatment of diseases. However, the properties associated with their small size, which make these innovations possible, are not completely understood — nor are the precise implications for human health and the environment.
The four-year initiative, which began in 2011, is building Europe's capacity to analyse nanoparticles and generate reliable and robust safety information. QUALITYNANO provides researchers access to experts and equipment in 15 sites across Europe, through the Transnational Access programme.
Within the project, 29 partners involved have launched a series of joint research activities to further knowledge and practices in the field of nanomaterial safety assessment. This research has focused on specific areas including nanomaterial synthesis, labelling protocols, presentation to living systems and characterisation of the properties of nanomaterials in contact with biological systems.
Project partners are building a network of experts working in the field of nanomaterial safety and have held a number of events. These included two major conferences in 2012 and 2013,- with 250 delegates from all over the world attending each conference.
QUALITYNANO is also focusing on training young researchers to test nanosafety in quantitative and reproducible ways across different laboratories. This is achieved by repeating the same tests in different laboratories using methodologies developed within the Research Infrastructure and comparing the results. These inter-laboratory tests allow the spread of competencies and develop excellence and quality in nanosafety testing.
Nanotechnologies will have a huge impact on many aspects of society, and QUALITYNANO is helping to ensure their safe implementation.