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April 14, 2015

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Nanotechnology success relies on safety of nanomaterials, argue experts


The cathedral in Helsinki, where the SENN 2015 conference is taking place

Knowledge of the effects of nanomaterials on human health and the environment are still insufficient, according to the world’s leading experts in nanotechnology and nanosafety.

Gathering in Helsinki at the Safety of Engineered Nanoparticles and Nanotechnologies – SENN2015 Congress this week, over 200 experts from 28 countries are communicating the latest knowledge on the safety of the manufacture and use of nanotechnology products. They will emphasise how the safety of nanomaterials is central to the success of the entire nanoindustry.

“Solutions that promote the safe use of nanotechnology are essential as the commercialisation of nanotechnology expands and a growing number of workers and consumers are exposed to nanomaterials,” said Kai Savolainen, theme director at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOSH), and chairman of the organising committee.

“Exposure may occur in the production, transportation, storage, handling, use and recycling of nano-enabled products.”

New nano-enabled products and nanotechnology applications are constantly being developed. The use of carbon-based nanotubes and grapheme in medicine and neurology applications for promoting, for example, communication between cells, has recently awakened great interest.

“There are thousands of different nanomaterials. Many of them are harmless, but some may be hazardous to health and even cause cancer,” says Hannu Norppa, research professor at FIOH.

“The international cancer research centre at IARC has classed carbon-based nanotubes as potentially cancer-inducing. The key issues in the research on the safety of nanomaterials are defining the characteristics of nanomaterials that influence their harmful effects, and whether nanosize can make harmless materials dangerous.”

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