With its wide partnership from across Europe, consisting of SMEs, universities and research centres, NanoFATE created a network and a critical mass of research in the area of environmental fate, effect and risk assessment for engineered nanoparticles (ENPs). Further, through its existing connections and contacts with national governments, regulatory bodies and Scientific Committees of the EU, NanoFATE formed an expert pool of knowledge to inform policy makers about nanotechnology risk and possible impacts on society.
Nanotechnology is a major growth industry; if it is to reach its full economic potential in a responsible manner, uncertainties over product safety must be addressed and reduced. Good systems exist for risk assessment of classical chemicals, but applying them to engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) and products is not automatic. NanoFATE identified the modifications needed to make current systems applicable to ENPs, providing key pieces of information to help industries and regulators better address the safety of nanotechnology under EU REACH legislation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals).
Working in concert, the NanoFATE researchers:
- identified ways of tracking and measuring ENPs in the environment,
- determined where they end up in the environment and what drives these fates,
- looked at the effects they may cause to environmental organisms under realistic worst case scenarios,
- built all this into a set of key parameters that will help predictive evaluation of what the potential risks of ENPs may be.
A multidisciplinary project coordinated by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), NanoFATE had a near unique perspective in addressing and understanding risk in an environmental context. NanoFATE materials scientists engaged on a day-to-day level with partners looking at environmental fate and exposure and also biological effects. This integration facilitated a unique cross fertilisation of ideas that leading to significant advances of current research practice in this area.
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