EU project to improve engineered nanomaterial safety

The Adolphe Merkle Institute has joined an international effort addressing the need for safer and more effective testing of engineered nanomaterials (ENM), an area that is of crucial and growing importance to billion-franc markets including cosmetics, electronics, medicine and food.

The AMI BioNanomaterials co-chair Professor Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser will serve as a module leader (Advanced in vitro pulmonary models for ENM assessment) of a new €12.7 million (CHF 14.8 million) global project, PATROLS, financed by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 initiative, and led by Swansea University.

The nanotechnology industry promises significant scientific, economic and societal benefits, but commercialisation and growth are threatened by safety uncertainties. Whether engineered nanomaterials present a risk to human and environmental health is still open to debate. However, at present, the test methods used to assess this risk are inadequate and unrealistic. Current test systems utilise scientific models that lack the detail and complexity of the environment and the human body, and only consider the effects of short-term ENM exposure which does not reflect realistic extended or repeated exposure scenarios.

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