Despite broad application in everyday products and materials, safety and security issues of nanotechnologies have hardly been the subject of research to this day. The NanoTrust project has been ongoing since 2007 and represents a publicly accessible information platform aiming to identify the most pressing issues.
Nanotechnology promises new or improved materials and products, e.g. in medicine, cosmetics, optics, or construction. In order to ensure the safe and sustainable development of nanotechnologies, NanoTrust collects, analyses and communicates the current state of knowledge on possible health and environmental risks for decision-makers and the interested public, thus contributing to the organisation of an exchange of knowledge.
The field of nanotechnology is gaining momentum in the context of the development of technology. However, aspects of safety and security have not been sufficiently explored yet to be able to predict the potential risks and dangers involved. At the same time, the public debate has steered towards a critical view, and could easily take a turn towards the negative implications involved.
In light of our experience with genetic engineering in agriculture, we need to have a forward-looking nanotechnology policy that builds upon deep and well-prepared analyses. Thus, there is a great need for more research about, and communication of, the subject.
Within NanoTrust 5 accompanying research on approaches to the regulation of nanotechnologies, as well as the security and risk research of the innovation area of the so-called “advanced materials”, is conducted. An important task includes the dissemination of research results within the framework of scientific technology assessment, as well as the critical reflection of the national and international regulatory activities and feedback to the relevant Austrian actors.
For the first time in Austria, these important aspects of technology development are being investigated in a systematic way rather than on the level of individual R&D projects. We aim at making transparent possible gaps in research and identifying the most pressing issues that need to be addressed. The findings will also have national relevance, as project-coordinator André Gazsó has recently been made chair of the Nano Information Commission of the Austrian Ministery of Health.
If you would like to be informed about the latest NanoTrust activities and publications, you can subscribe to the NanoTrust Newsletter here: NanoTrust Newsletter (German)