Nanotechnology is an important area of research and technology development. The ITA analyses the regulation of nanotechnologies, and identifies potential health and environmental risks.

Nanotechnology is a generic term for those technologies that take advantage of the special properties of atoms and molecules in the nanometer range or observe and manipulate them (1 nanometer = 1 billionth of a meter). Applications are found in special surfacetreatments, in optics and in computer technology, in medicine, as well as in cosmetics and water treatment.

What effects this relatively new area has on our health and the environment has been studied insufficiently to give reliable estimates of potential risks. However, general concerns are increasing and a broad public debate about the pros and cons of Nanotechnology is emerging. All this makes broad research and an effective external communication even more essential.

NanoSafety, NanoHotTopics and NanoTrust

Since 2006, the ITA has conducted a number of projects on the potential impact of nanotechnology: NanoSafety was addressed to the European Parliament and delivered an overview on relevant health and environmental safety aspects. NanoHotTopics focused on issues of occupational safety.

Our main project NanoTrust collects the general knowledge and compiles it in so-called NanoTrust Dossiers. The topics covered a range from health effects – such as the question of whether nanoparticles can penetrate the skin and the brain and what effect they might have there – and various product groups such as cosmetics, textiles, food, building materials, surfaces to questions of labelling and regulation of nano-products as well as occupational, consumer and environmental protection.

Is nanotechnology dangerous? The truth is, right now we simply do not know. Too broad is the issue and too big the lack of specific knowledge.However, the NanoTrust Dossiers provide us with an overview of our current state of knowledge.

Carbon nanotubes –material of the future