The EUON Nanopinions is a platform where stakeholders can share their views on topics related to nanomaterials relevant in the EU.
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14 November 2023
Fundamental research on the biological interactions of 2D materials is needed if we are to understand the toxicological impact of the materials. One cannot a priori assume that all nanomaterials will interact in a similar manner with living systems, and it is important to disentangle the physicochemical properties that underlie the biological effects of 2D materials. Research in the GF has disclosed the importance of interactions between GBMs and proteins for the subsequent cellular impact of these materials. Studies performed in collaboration with an associated project funded under the transnational FLAG-ERA call have shown that surface functionalization of GO governs the interactions with immune cells. Furthermore, the lateral dimensions of GO seem to dictate the immunological impact in vivo as shown in a mouse model of intraperitoneal injection. Moreover, recent studies have revealed that GBMs may affect the immune system indirectly via their effects on the microbiome, opening up a new frontier in the study of these materials.
17 October 2023
The rise of nanotechnology and its applications has led to the development of novel nanomaterials (NMs) that differ from their bulk analogues with respect to their physicochemical properties and behaviour. The use of NMs in the EU and globally is continuously increasing with various commercial segments such as cosmetics, paints, sensors, batteries, manufacturing, etc. driving the EU NMs market growth. Regardless of their benefits, NMs, in some cases, may be harmful to animals and humans. Therefore, more work is needed in the fields of safety-and-sustainability-by-design and risk assessment of NMs.
12 September 2023
All multicellular organisms host microbes on their tissues, and these microbes jointly make up the host-associated microbiota. Microbes are important to the health of organisms and play a crucial role at the exposure interface with nanoparticles. To illustrate this, you can imagine a nanoparticle to increase to the size of a football. Following the same size scale, a football would approximately increase to size of the Earth. Adding a microbe to this comparison, would mean that you add an object with roughly the size of a city bus. Massive as compared to the ‘football-sized nanoparticle’, tiny as compared to ‘the Earth-sized football’.
15 August 2023
If a grain size of a bulk metal is made smaller than 100 nm, the material becomes stronger. These tiny metallic pieces are called nanocrystals. This change on the macroscopic properties happens because the plastic deformation mechanism that determines the force that the material is able to withstand before it loses its original shape, changes dramatically when reducing the size. This effect is related to the inter-defects distance of crystals, which is the distance between the imperfections (like grain boundaries) appearing in the atomic structures of metals and which disturb locally the regular arrangement of the atoms. This little distance between defects is indeed of key importance for everyday life as it defines properties of the materials at the macroscopic level, such as strength, wear resistance, or ductility (the ability to sustain deformation without failure).
18 July 2023
Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) have the ability to revolutionize many industries and are already used in e.g., cosmetics, electronics, batteries, fuels, fuel cells, solar cells, automobile components, etc. In medicine, they are used for the detection of biological molecules, imaging of diseased tissues and innovative therapeutics as well as drug delivery systems. Safety and targeting ability are important factors in developing sustainable nanomaterials. Designing safe and efficient ENMs for different applications requires an understanding of how ENMs behave in organisms’ bodies and humans and how they interact with the surrounding cells and tissues.
13 June 2023
Since 2020 REACH has made explicit that nanoforms have to be registered. The registrants are required to provide a specific hazard dataset for each nanoform or set of nanoforms and to characterised them. This includes particle size distribution and other physical-chemical properties. Moreover, all toxicological (considering health effects) and ecotoxicological testing of chemicals (considering effects on biotic systems; such as OECD Test Guideline (TG) 201, 202 and 203) need to be adjusted to the behaviour of nanomaterials (see OECD Guidance Document (GD) 317). However, to do appropriate adaptations to the behaviour of nanomaterials the dispersion stability (OECD Test Guideline (TG) 318) and the dissolution rate (no OECD TG available; based on OECD GDs 29 and 318) should be known. Scientifically sound studies are necessary, especially if no TG is available.
15 May 2023
The gut microbiome (i.e., the collection of bacteria that dwell in our gut, primarily in the large bowel or colon) is sometimes considered as our “forgotten organ”. However, several studies published in recent years have shown that the gut microbiome regulates normal (physiological) responses. Hence, metabolic signals generated by the microbiome are known to modulate the immune system of the host. Naturally, the complex interactions between the microbiome and its host can only be studied in a living organism – but this doesn’t mean that mice are the best model. In fact, there are species differences also when it comes to the structure and function of the gut microbiome. Therefore, a model – such as the zebrafish – can be used to demonstrate a mechanism, but the same results cannot a priori be used to draw conclusions about “risk”.
11 April 2023
Compared to other fluorescent sensors used in neuroscience, nanosensors offer unique advantages. Imaging in the NIR/SWIR window allows deeper tissue imaging with less scattering and minimal tissue autofluorescence. These are especially critical criteria when it comes to imaging brain tissue. For example, we can study quantal (that is, unitary) release events at synaptic resolutions, which has never been demonstrated before. Another key feature of nanosensors is the pharmacological compatibility to faithfully interpret effects of drugs, with the added possibility of screening drugs for various applications. Compared to genetically encoded sensors, nanosensors are ready to use immediately after application to the biological specimen. The construction of sensors is relatively straightforward and can be done in under two hours without advanced synthetic expertise. Importantly, this tool could enable study of dopamine dynamics in species where deployment of genetically encoded probes could be challenging.
14 March 2023
Nanostructured materials are in the forefront of materials science due to their unique properties, such as improved mechanical and magnetic performances. The properties of nanomaterials can be tuned by changing the chemical composition and/or the microstructure, such as the size of grains, as well as the type and density of crystal defects inside the grains. Defects disrupt the ideal periodic arrangement of atoms in crystallites. This disruption is known as lattice strain. For instance, dislocations and planar faults are frequently formed crystal defects for which considerable lattice strain is observed in one and two dimensions, respectively. In other words, dislocations are line defects and planar faults are defects that extend along a crystal plane. Both defects have a significant influence of the deformation behavior of materials . Crystal defects in nanomaterials form naturally during their processing. However, their types, amount and spatial arrangement can be modified by changing the processing conditions. This route of tailoring the properties of nanomaterials is called as “crystal defect engineering”.
14 February 2023
Graphene Electronic Tattoos (GETs) are a type of skin-wearable electronic device that can be used for personalized healthcare by transmitting the bio-electrical activity of the human body in measurable electrical signal. The GETs are made from high-quality single-atom-thick graphene (atomic monolayer of carbon atoms tightly bound in a honeycomb lattice nanostructure) and were first developed in 2017. The GETs are optically transparent, lightweight, and flexible, making them adhere and conform to the micro-curvature of the skin, which helps them to remain at the exact positions during use and transmit bioelectrical signals during movements which would not be possible with other, thick and rigid materials such as gold or silver/silver chloride (Ag/AgCl) gel electrodes. GETs have been used to monitor electrophysiological signals such as the brain (EEG), heart (ECG), muscle (EMG), and ocular (EOG) activities, as well as skin temperature and hydration level.
17 January 2023
ECHA through the EU Observatory for NMs (EUON) commissioned a study regarding the current market (including the European Economic Area countries (EEA) and Switzerland), which was awarded to NovaMechanics Ltd. from Cyprus. The purpose of the study was to provide EUON, its stakeholders, and the public with reliable and transparent information regarding the NMs that are currently available in the internal market, the main areas of application, and the market operators (producers, major traders, downstream users). The results of this study will feed into the EUON’s activities to increase transparency and understanding on how the NMs market is evolving and fill data gaps on the EU market information. The study included a 5-year projection of the EU market, with 2020 as the baseline year, but was completed prior to the ongoing events in Ukraine and the resulting crisis.
20 December 2022
The emergence of nanotechnology opened new challenges in occupational health and safety. Over the last 15 years scientists have paid attention to the development of new instruments capable of measuring personal exposure to nanosize particles. New frameworks, methodologies and standards to assess and control exposure to engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) in the workplace have been published. A large effort has also gone to establish grouping approaches according to how they exert their toxicity and towards the development of occupational exposure limits (OELs). This task has been difficult due to the high diversity of ENMs, the uncertainties on their mode of action and on selecting the metric that best represents the end point.
08 November 2022
Historical stone surfaces are magnificent but undergo damage with time. Their aging and decay are inevitable when exposed to the outside environment. This is because the often porous architectural stone surfaces are prone to water-induced weathering, which is the process of being worn by long exposure to the atmosphere. Rainwater that percolates within the stone can cause chemical weathering, mainly mineral dissolution and adverse reprecipitation, as well as mechanical weathering when the pore water undergoes freezing and thawing cycles. These processes are slow but in the long term, they induce severe and irreversible changes that ultimately lead to grain disintegration and stone crumbling.
12 October 2022
With ever increasing technological advances, the demand for smart materials is always on the upswing. We define smart materials as those which can exhibit shape and appearance changes or self-heal upon wear and tear or damage. Importantly, if such materials can be made reusable and recyclable, this can lead to sustainability without losing the technological edge. For example, smart textiles that can change their color based on the temperature or windows that selectively allow light based on the environment.
13 September 2022
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is literally the brain’s gatekeeper. It is a biological boundary that protects the brain from being exposed to things it shouldn’t. Sitting between the blood stream and the brain, the BBB serves the twin role of providing the brain with the things it needs, nutrients and oxygen, whilst also forming a barrier to things it doesn’t, such as pathogens and toxins. The BBB has evolved to “recognise” all forms of chemicals and particles, including nanoparticles (particles in the size range between 1 and 100nm), since these have been present on Earth before the emergence of life.
28 June 2022
The early 2000s witnessed an explosive growth of research investments into nanotechnology. This new technology promised enhanced products and new nanomaterials with improved performance, but also raised public concerns about how safe they were for the environment, workers and consumers. Initially, the main research efforts were directed at identifying the hazards presented by nanomaterials, while investigations into the specifics of exposure risks lagged behind. Given the growing variety of exposure situations to nanomaterials of concern, a critical need for internationally-accepted exposure models for use in nanomaterial risk assessments became broadly recognized (OECD 2017). This need was addressed by recently completed international projects described in this article and conducted under the umbrella of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
31 May 2022
Detecting cancer at early stages when interventions are possible is important to improve survival. However, screening tests for many cancer types do not meet such needs due to the low sensitivity1 and specificity2, meaning that some patients will receive a false positive result in the screening even if they do not have cancer, while others will receive a false negative result despite having cancer. In addition, many cancer types even do not have any means for early detection.
24 February 2022
Referring to a ‘Nanopinion’ entitled “Nanoplastics – it’s a name game” (https://euon.echa.europa.eu/nanopinion/-/blogs/-nanoplastics-game), microplastics and nanoplastics are becoming increasingly familiar terms when discussing plastics pollution. Nanoplastics are solid particles of synthetic or heavily modified natural polymers with sizes between 1 nm and 1000 nm, although some authors have suggested an upper limit of 100 nm, as for engineered nanomaterials. Indeed, the upper limit is arbitrary and is more important to set limits for regulation of primary nanoplastics production.
18 January 2022
During the last few years, there has been a continuous and steady increase in the industrial translation of graphene and various related 2D materials. Many different industries and application areas have moved forward from the evaluation stage of graphene materials to the phase of adoption and industrial development, closer to large-scale product manufacturing. Some examples include fabrics, batteries, metal alloys, concrete and other construction materials, and different types of composites used in automotive and aerospace engineering.
17 December 2021
Project ACEnano, acronym for “Analytical and Characterisation Excellence in nanomaterial risk assessment: A tiered approach”, is a Horizon2020 project which recently completed its 4.5-year course. The project partnership comprised of 28 members and included universities, research institutes, government bodies, multinational companies and SMEs, from across Europe but also South Korea and China.
04 November 2021
A few years ago, nanomaterials were curiosities from scientific laboratories. By now the ability to control the structure of materials at the nanoscale has been translated into numerous applications and nanomaterials have entered our daily lives. They are appearing in raw materials for new products that are lighter, more stable or have new properties.
30 August 2021
Daniel Ruiz-Molina got his PhD in Chemistry with a thesis on polyradical dendrimers at the Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC) under Prof. Jaume Veciana’s tutorship. Then, he obtained a postdoctoral position at the University of California San Diego (USA), where he spent three years working on single molecule magnets and molecular switches.
15 July 2021
The NMEG is coordinated and hosted by ECHA. Participants include experts from EU Member State competent authorities, the European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority, industry, NGOs and other stakeholder organisations. The group's current mandate is to provide informal and non-binding scientific and technical advice on questions related to nanomaterials or nanoforms of substances in the frame of the implementation of REACH, CLP, BPR, EUON and other issues of relevance to ECHA’s work.
31 May 2021
Chiara Venturini joined the Nanotechnology Industry Association (NIA) as Director General in 2021. She has been working in Brussels-based membership associations for over a decade, focusing on environmental issues and chemicals management for sectors as diverse as fuel cells and hydrogen, ceramics, digital and ICT. Her expertise also includes sustainability, supply chain management, and trade.
29 April 2021
Fazel A. Monikh did his PhD at the Department of Environmental Geoscience, University of Vienna, Austria, where he focused on developing methods for extraction, characterization, and quantification of nanomaterials (NMs) in complex matrices e.g. consumer products and environmental samples.
19 March 2021
Bennard van Ravenzwaay, Senior Vice President for experimental toxicology and ecology at BASF and a professor for toxicology;
Robert Landsiedel, Vice President at the experimental toxicology and ecology department of BASF and associate professor (Privatdozent) for pharmacology and toxicology at the Free University of Berlin;
Wendel Wohlleben, Senior Principal Scientist at BASF, Dept. of Material Physics, second affiliation with Dept. of Experimental Toxicology and Ecology;
Simon Rafael Luederwald, lab team leader for experimental ecology at BASF;
Olivier de Matos, Secretary General of ECETOC
19 February 2021
Dr Dorte Rasmussen been working on the exposure and risk assessment of chemicals at DHI A/S for almost 25 years.She is a chemical engineer by education and hold a PhD in applied thermodynamics from the Danish Technical University.
05 October 2020
Dr Monita Sharma, Nanotoxicology Specialist and Dr Andreas Stucki, Advisor - Peta International Science Consortium Ltd. (PISC)
14 September 2020
Andrew Nelson, Professor in Nanotoxicology and EU Project Coordinator (SABYDOMA & HISENTS) - University of Leeds
31 August 2020
Dr Dorota Napierska, Chemicals Policy and Project Officer - Health Care Without Harm Europe
23 July 2020
Dr Blaise Tardy, Research Fellow, bio-based colloids and materials research group - Aalto University
01 July 2020
Dr Sabine Lindner, Consumer and Environmental Affairs - PlasticsEurope Deutschland e.V.
12 June 2020
Dr Heike Liewald, Managing Director - Eurocolour e.V. and Giuliana Beck, Advisor - German association of producers of pigments and fillers
05 May 2020
Olivier de Matos, Secretary General, European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology (ECETOC)
07 April 2020
Anna Lennquist, Senior Toxicologist, International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec)
03 March 2020
Claire Skentelbery, Director General, Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA)
10 December 2019
Carlos-Eduardo Lima Da Cunha, Policy Officer, European Commission
12 November 2019
Elke Schneider, European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA)
07 October 2019
Lise Bitsch, Governing Nanotechnologies through societal engagement (GoNano)
16 September 2019
Bjorn Hansen, European Chemicals Agency
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