Simple, robust and cost-effective approaches to guide industry in the development of safer nanomaterials and nano-enabled products

The SAbyNA project, funded by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme, has successfully concluded after more than four years of dedicated work to guide the development of safer and more sustainable nanomaterials and nano-enabled products.

SAbyNA Guidance Platform

The main objective of SAbyNA was to develop an overarching integrative and interactive web-based guideline: the SAbyNA Guidance Platform, to support the development of safer nano-enabled products with advanced functionalities tailored to different industrial sectors. The guideline consists of a step-by-step approach to identify potential risks and to indicate options for managing these risks, both by adapting the design of the product and by adapting the production process; safer nanoforms (NFs) and nano-enabled products (NEPs), safer nano processes over the whole life cycle. As a case study within SAbyNA, 3D printing and paint were used, where exposure to nanomaterials is possible. Within SAbyNA, there was a close collaboration between 17 partners from government, research institutes and industry including Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, Finland, France, Sweden, the United States and the Netherlands.  

The platform was developed for those who design, develop and produce materials and nanotechnology-enabled products, as well as for researchers. The platform focusses on guiding two main sectors, Paints and Additive Manufacturing, in developing safer nanotechnology-based products. Project coordinator Dr Doctor (Doctor) Socorro Vázquez-Campos from Leitat: "SAbyNA has represented a crucial step forward in providing methodologies for designing and developing safer nanomaterials and nano-enabled products. The web-based Guidance Platform generated in this project will serve as an invaluable resource for driving innovation and ensuring a safer and more sustainable future for nanotechnology. Unlike traditional approaches that reactively address safety of new technologies, SAbyNA has focused on establishing strategies to assess safety proactively from the initial stages of product and process design and development. This aims to maximise safety for workers, consumers, and the environment while retaining the full benefits of the functionality provided by nanomaterials and nano-enabled products". 

Safer and more sustainable nanotechnology 

The SAbyNA Guidance Platform offers a wide range of resources to support the safer and more sustainable design and development of nanotechnology, including: 
•    A stepwise procedure to easily screen and more deeply assess the safety of nanoparticles, manufacturing processes, and intended use of nano-enabled products. 
•    Detailed guidelines covering the workflows and strategies needed to improve safety, sustainability and costs across the entire nanomaterials and nano-enabled products lifecycle, from production to disposal. 
•    Tools, models, and methodologies for assessing the safety, sustainability and costs in the design and development of nanomaterials and nano-enabled products. 
•    Data resources to facilitate access to existing and new environmental and occupational health and safety data for the different assessments. 
•    A simplified Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and cost assessment tools for environmental sustainability and cost assessment tailored to the two relevant sectors (Paints and Additive Manufacturing). 

Although the SAbyNA project officially ended on 31 May 2024, its legacy of innovation and safety in nanotechnology endures. The web-based Guidance Platform and resources developed during the project will remain accessible and updated, ensuring that their positive impact continues over time. Beyond the Platform, the SAbyNA project community has become a vibrant network of experts and professionals committed to the responsible development of nanotechnology. This network will continue collaborating and driving new research and projects, ensuring that SAbyNA's proactive and safe approach continues to set the standard for the future application of nanotechnology.

Role of RIVM

RIVM has led Work Package WP3: Streamlined methodologies, models and tools to facilitate hazard assessment of NFs/ NEPs for safe-by-design purposes. As a Work Package leader, RIVM has provided guidance on which methods are suitable to identify risks of nanotechnology products at an early stage in the innovation process. RIVM has coordinated the development of a hazard strategy specific for safe-by-design purposes. RIVM has also conducted lab experiments using real case studies to evaluate the hazard strategy. The results have been and will be published in the public scientific literature. RIVM colleagues Flemming Cassee, Lya Hernandez, & Nienke Ruijter (PhD student) and former RIVM employees Susan Dekkers, Hedwig Braakhuis and Margriet Park were involved in  the SAbyNA project.

Funding

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 862419.