Mistra Environmental Nanosafety Conference

Mistra environmental nanosafety is an interdisciplinary research program in Sweden with the purpose to enable new risk assessment strategies for nanomaterials. To summarise and discuss the results from this four-year program, the conference ”Towards nanotech safety” was organized 13-15th November in Gothenburg.

The conference agenda contained presentations of recent research findings as well as perspectives on safe nanotech innovation from different stakeholders. The event gathered around fifty participants.

Julie Gold, manager of Mistra environmental nanosafety, and Sverker Molander, deputy manager, both from Chalmers, introduced the Mistra program and the conference. The meeting was organised by Bengt Fadeel, Karolinska Institutet (scientific conference) and Sverker Molander (stakeholder workshop). A final report on the results of the research program is expected in March 2019.

Mark Wiesner from Duke University, USA, held a keynote lecture, in which he presented a series of eight lessons learned from 20 years of research into environmental and health effects of nanomaterials. One lesson referred to the importance of size and surface chemistry to accessibility and affinity, respectively. Another lesson was that nano-scale materials readily interact with organisms and ecosystems. He also pointed out that from an exposure perspective, natural and incidental nano-scale particles predominate over the engineered nanomaterials. However, there is a need to stay vigilant regarding the potential impact of new materials. Regarding the future he concluded that there will be new nanomaterials and active nano systems that merit investigation. The role of natural and incidental particles in transporting known toxic compounds is also of interest.

Among the approximately thirty speakers at the conference were members of SweNanoSafe´s expert panel: Bengt Fadeel (chair), Joachim Sturve and Rickard Arvidsson, who covered the subjects of cytotoxicity assessment of metal and metal oxide nanoparticles, trophic transfer of nanoparticles in the aquatic environment and potential proxy measures for environmental risks of nanomaterials, respectively. Bengt Fadeel also presented the new report on nanotoxicology from Karolinska Institutet.

Heike Hellmold, who has led the startup of SweNanoSafe and is chair of SweNanoSafe’s Cooperation Council, presented the aim and activities of the national platform. She invited participants at the conference to join the national network of nanosafety researchers, recently initiated by SweNanoSafe. Stakeholders interested in joining the Cooperation Council were also encouraged to contact SweNanoSafe for more information.

The conference further covered the perception of risks and possibilities for safe nanotech innovation, both perception among the public and the attitudes of Swedish expert stakeholders.

Finally, representatives from various stakeholder groups (including industry, start-up company, academy, NGO) shared their experiences and reflected on ideas around innovation, collaboration, legislation and societal needs to support the development of safe nanomaterials. Among these were Michael Persson, Nouryon, Anna Lennquist, International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec), and Lauge Peter Westergaard Clausen, Technical University of Denmark, who reflected on REACH and The ten decrees of nanomaterials regulations (Clausen LPW, Hansen SF. Nature Nanotechnology. 2018; 13:766-768).

In short summary of the discussions at the meeting, communication between disciplines and between stakeholders were regarded as crucial among the participants. In addition, a continued investment in basic science and funding of science that addresses questions of regulatory relevance were advocated.


Källa: Marie Beckman, SweNanoSafe

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Photo: Julie Gold, Chalmers, presents the Mistra environmental nanosafety program

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