SnIRC’s aims are to develop a coherent integrated program of work which will:

  • increase awareness of the issues relating to nanoparticles, health and environment
  • become the UK centre for information and advice on the potential health, safety and environmental impacts of generic or specifically engineered nano-materials especially nanoparticles and nanotubes
  • generate a comprehensive and coherent body of scientific evidence which would help towards developing relevant policies to promote UK nanotechnology growth while safeguarding workplace, public and environmental health
  • assist UK industry in developing safe nano-materials
  • maintain and promote an international network of researchers and regulators actively involved in the safety of nanomaterials.
  • be the organisation for integrating UK research with corresponding US and European efforts
  • maintain dialogue with the Research Co-ordination Group led by DEFRA in response to the Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering Report
  • raise support and funding for these activities.

To realise our aims we envisage a work programme that will:

  • Develop, validate and use methods to assess and control  personal exposure to nano-materials by inhalation, ingestion and through the skin, via occupational, consumer and environmental routes
  • Develop an understanding of the transport and behaviour of nanoparticles and nanotubes in air, water and soil, including their interactions with other chemicals and the potential effects on the eco-system.
  • Establish protocols for investigating the long-term fate of nanoparticles in the eco-system.
  • Develop internationally agreed in-vivo and in-vitro protocols and models for investigating the routes of exposure, bioaccumulation and toxicology of nanoparticles in humans and non-human organisms
  • Undertake fundamental studies of the mechanisms of interaction of internalised nanoparticles with the human body, their ability to translocate between organs, in  particular their effects on the respiratory, cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems, and on the gastrointestinal tract, skin, liver, and kidneys
  • Carry out epidemiological investigation of the inter-relations of exposure and the potential impacts on the health outcomes in those industrial and environmental processes.
  • Develop and validate approaches for risk assessment and use these approaches to assess and control risk.

The size of the work program and the priorities within it will be highly dependant on the level of funding that can be secured. . We welcome the UK Government commitment to “filling gaps in knowledge through an immediate programme of research aimed at reducing the uncertainties relating to toxicity and exposure pathways for nanoparticulates”, and will actively pursue opportunities arising from this and from other sources.

Information about current and recent SnIRC projects can be found here.

We believe that this initiative will provide the basis for a cohesive multidisciplinary collaborative research programme which will be able to reduce the uncertainties associated with the potential risks of these materials. A successful program will make a major contribution towards protecting health of workers and the public, the environment and in enabling industry to take forward the development of new and beneficial materials.

If you would like more information about SnIRC and its activities please contact
Dr Rob Aitken

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