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Nanotechnology in perspective. Risks for man and the environment

Nanotechnologie in perspectief. Risico's voor mens en milieu


The Knowledge and Information Risks Nanotechnology (KIR nano), a Dutch national government-supported observation organization based at RIVM, has provided an overview of the potential risks to both man and the environment of exposure to nanoparticles. The focus is on free, non-degradable and insoluble nanoparticles present in medical applications, food, consumer products and the environment. Scientific data compiled to date demonstrate that negative effects of exposure to nanoparticles cannot be excluded. However, much more information is required to be able to estimate the risks of nanoparticles equally well as those of other (not nano) chemicals. Nevertheless, hundreds of products containing nanomaterials are currently available commercially, a situation which clearly necessitates that the exposure and toxicity of these materials be investigated in the near future. Unfortunately, the research questions to be answered are so numerous that it will take years to compile the relevant data. The advice of the KIR nano is to focus research primarily on those questions that provide information critical to the assessment of risks to man and the environment. Dependent on the perspective - worker, consumer, patient, or the environment - the points of departure can then be defined for controlling (or limiting) the risks. Information (eg. on methodology) generated in the strongly regulated world of medical applications can be a very valuable asset in other (research) areas of application, where the requirements for dossiers and compiling of pertinent data are not as exacting. Core concepts for the upcoming years include expanding our knowledge of nanoparticles and making this knowledge easily available to avoid any duplication of research, identifying and where necessary taking the appropriate risk management measures, choosing the areas of research in which the Netherlands wishes to contribute to this field, supporting Research & Development and promoting collaboration between (semi)government organs/agencies, science and industry.

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