Nanotechnology Project

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Environment, Health and Safety Research

A scoping study to identify hazard data needs for addressing the risks presented by nanoparticles and nanotubes

Project Information

Principal InvestigatorLang Tran
InstitutionInstitute of Occupational Medicine
Project URLView
Relevance to ImplicationsHigh
Class of NanomaterialEngineered Nanomaterials
Impact SectorCross-cutting
Broad Research Categories Hazard
NNI identifier

Funding Information

Anticipated Total Funding$69,568.00
Annual Funding$69,568.00
Funding SourceDEFRA
Funding MechanismExtramural
Funding SectorGovernment
Start Year2004
Anticipated End Year2005


In 2003, the Royal Society (RS) and Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) were asked by the Government to assess the opportunities and uncertainties concerning nanoscience and nanotechnology. In their report they defined nanoscience in terms of the scale at which material properties differed from the same material in larger scale, they pointed out that there were many nanotechnologies rather than one, and they emphasised the difference between hazard (the potential to cause harm) and risk (a quantification of the likelihood of such harm occurring), and pointed to the importance of dose to the target in determining the latter. They recognised the fundamentally important roles that these technologies were likely to play in the world economy, and pointed out that relatively few of them implied hazard to humans or the environment. In discussing hazards, they recognised that (i) nanoparticles (NP) and nanotubes (NT) posed the greatest concerns (ii) that there were substantial knowledge gaps relating to the hazard (and risks) of these materials and (iii) emphasis should be placed on research into human health and environmental effects of these materials, with a view to guiding regulation. They set out a risk based approach for research, in terms of the identification of hazard and a structured approach to determining likely exposure to the identified hazard. The Government accepted this, viewing it as “an essential step to regulating in a proportionate way any risks from these materials”. DEFRA has commissioned the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) to prepare this scoping study.