News Items

SAFENANO Site Officially Launches - 21/08/2007

A website providing information on nanotechnology health and safety is today being launched by SAFENANO.

Managed by the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh, SAFENANO aims to become the UK's premier resource on nanotechnology hazard and risk. SAFENANO will provide independent and impartial advice to stakeholders including industry, academia and the wider public concerning the potential risks to human health and the environment from nanomaterials.

The SAFENANO project is being funded with £316,000 over three years from the Government’s Technology Strategy Board, which is sponsored by the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).

Minister for Science and Innovation, Ian Pearson, said:
"Nanotechnology is an area which has the potential to offer significant health, social and economic benefits for the UK, with predictions of a global market worth over $1 trillion within a decade. Government is providing £90 million on research and infrastructure to promote the commercialisation of micro and nanotechnologies.

“However, it is new technology and it’s important that we also examine the health, safety and environmental risks associated with it. That’s why we’re supporting SAFENANO, which will provide impartial advice on this important area."

SAFENANO has the remit of collecting, interpreting and disseminating the emerging scientific evidence on these issues.

Commentary and editorial for SAFENANO will be provided from experts within the IOM, partners in SnIRC and other experts. features the latest scientific research, information about good practice, standards, news, events, and articles from leading opinion formers in industry, government and academia in the UK and world wide. It includes a regular bulletin service, comprehensive database of relevant publications and a community site where users can share information about common challenges and their solutions on a global basis.

Visit SAFENANO to find out more.

21st August 2007.

Royal Society of Chemistry publishes Nanotechnology Risk Book

"Nanotechnology – Consequences for Human Health and the Environment" has this week been published by the Royal Society of Chemistry as part of its "Issues in Environmental Science and Technology" series. The book, which is edited by Professor Ronald Hester and Professor Roy Harrison, provides a broad overview of the risks posed by Nanotechnology, and the research currently ongoing into these.

There are contributions from many of the UK’s leading nanotechnology risk experts, including some of SnIRC’s own team. Included on this list are Lang Tran, Fintan Hurley and Rob Aitken of SAFENANO & IOM, and Ken Donaldson, Vicki Stone and John Ayres of SnIRC.

The contributions of each author are outlined below:

  • Barry Park, Oxonica UK: Overview of the current and future applications of nanotechnology.
  • Jamie Lead, University of Birmingham: Nanoparticles in the aquatic and terrestrial Environment.
  • Roy Harrison, University of Birmingham: Nanoparticles within the Atmosphere
  • David Mark, Health and Safety Laboratory: Occupational Exposure to Nanoparticles
  • Ken Donaldson (Edinburgh University) and Vicki Stone (Napier University): Toxicological Properties of Nanoparticles and Nanotubes
  • Lang Tran, Rob Aitken, Fintan Hurley (all IOM), John Ayres (Aberdeen University) and Ken Donaldson (Edinburgh University): Human Effects of Nanoparticle Exposure
  • Andrew Maynard (Woodrow Wilson Center): Nanoparticle Safety - a perspective from the United States.

The book is available to buy online

For more information on the book, please see SAFENANO’s review of this title in the Feature Articles Area of their site.

17th July 2007.

Maynard and Aitken call for new methods for measurement of exposure to nanoparticles

New methods and tools for measuring exposure to airborne engineered nanomaterials will be required to protect the health of workers in nanotechnology-related jobs according to Andrew Maynard, chief science advisor at the Woodrow Wilson Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, and SAFENANO Director Rob Aitken.

Their review "Assessing Exposure to Airborne Nanomaterials: Current Abilities and Future Requirements," published in the inaugural issue of the new journal ‘Nanotoxicology’ (, calls for the development of a novel, inexpensive and versatile aerosol monitor to tackle nanoparticulate exposure measurement issues.

In the paper, Maynard and Aitken develop a classification for nanoparticles into 9 groups, and identify a set of particle attributes thought to be relevant to determining potential health impact for each class. They then assess the effectiveness of current measuring methods for each attribute for each class and provide the information graphically, forming an excellent resource for reference by scientists working to develop monitoring systems for nanoparticles.

Airborne engineered nanomaterials present complex exposure measurement challenges," Maynard said. "Conventional approaches - measuring the mass of airborne material - will not always be sufficient.”

Rob Aitken explained “What our analysis shows is that in the complex new ‘nano world’ there is no single or simple method for monitoring nanoaerosol exposures in order to assess and manage potential health effects. There are instruments that present partial solutions to the measurement challenges we face. But at the end of the day, we lack the tools and devices that are sophisticated, cost-effective and fast enough to do the job.”

They propose a sampling device which would be low cost, and capable of simultaneously measuring aerosol number, surface area and concentration mass of airborne nanoparticulates. However, Aitken and Maynard recognize that “Bringing these technologies together into a single package within the size and cost parameters discussed does present a significant challenge”.

This in depth evaluation of the research and development necessary to produce air monitors for nanoparticulates links directly to one of the five grand challenges toward the Safe Handling of Nanotechnology, originally published by Aitken, Maynard and 12 other authors in ‘Nature’ (Nov 16, 2006).

The paper can be viewed online at

8th May 2007

"Less than satisfactory" - CST publishes analysis of Government Policy Progress on Nanotechnologies.

The Government’s leading advisers on science and technology fear that Britain may be falling behind in its engagement with the fast developing field of nanotechnologies. On March 27th, the Council for Science and Technology (CST) released their review into progress on Government Commitments to Nanotechnology. They concluded that although the Government had performed well in some areas, there was a lack of progress in fundamental areas such as research into potential risks associated with nanotechnology development and their management. The report highlighted progress that the Government has made toward setting standards and metrology for nanotechnology, as well as commending the valuable dialogue that has been established with industry and the public engagement initiatives that have been conducted. However, the Council stressed that without a suitable framework to ensure the safe handling of nanotechnology the progress of the UK as a leader in the field was significantly hindered. The CST called for a balance to be reached between research to develop new nanotechnology applications, and research into the toxicology, health and environmental effects of nanomaterials. In order to establish this, their major recommendation was implementation of a strategic programme of Government spending with targeted funds directed at the most pressing research needs. The report may be viewed in full at:

28th March 2007.

SnIRC contributes to first Particle Toxicology Textbook

CRC have recently published the first dedicated textbook on Particle Toxicology.
The book is edited by Prof. Ken Donaldson of Edinburgh University (a founding SnIRC member), and Prof. Paul Borm of Zuyd University Holland.

It contains material written by international experts within the fields of molecular biology, physico-chemistry, toxicology and ecotoxicology. In 22 chapters it summarises current knowledge on all aspects of particle toxicology, using the classical toxicology paradigm of exposure - dose – response, and provides a comprehensive account of the history and current status of research in each area described. Some of the topics covered include deposition, translocation, particle composition, oxidative and nitrosative stress, particulate interactions in the pulmonary, cardiovascular and central nervous systems, and genotoxic effects of ultrafine and other particles

In addition to being edited by a founding member of SnIRC, the book also contains contributions from other key SnIRC members Dr Lang Tran of the IOM, and Prof. Vicki Stone of Napier University.

For more information see:

30th January 2007

"Five Grand Challenges for Safe Nanotechnology"

Expert group sets out framework for delivery of "safe" Nanotechnologies

Five ‘Grand Challenges for Safe Nanotechnology’ have been published in ‘Nature’ today by an international team of independent experts in the field.

The group, led by Andrew Maynard of the Woodrow Wilson Institute Project for Emerging Nanotechnologies, and including co-authors from the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) and the SnIRC initiative (Safety of nanoparticles Interdisciplinary Research Centre), call for the pursuit of sustainable nanotechnology development through ‘sound science’ – an implementation of strategic and integrated research programs over the next 15 years.

The authors express their views on how little is truly known about the safety of nanotechnology, and the potential harm this could bring to the future of an industry expected to be worth over $100 Billion on the Global Market over the next 10 years. They warn that the development of nanotechnology will be seriously hindered unless ‘independent and authoritative information is developed on what the risks are and how to avoid them’

Using cautionary examples such as G.M. foods and Asbestos, they stress that as the number of nanotechnology containing products available increases exponentially, construction of a basic framework to tackle this lack of knowledge is imperative.

To address this, five ‘Grand Challenges’ are presented together with varying timeframes for the completion of each task. These range from development of instrumentation to assess exposure to engineered nanoparticles, to carrying out health impact assessments in the Nano workplace. The importance of communicating research on nanotechnology based risks and benefits to people outside of the scientific community, and the need for international and interdisciplinary collaborations, together with Government support is also noted as essential for the industry’s progression.

Dr Philip Woodhead, CEO of the IOM said “Nanotechnology is poised for explosive growth, and those of us who focus on the health, safety and environmental consequences of nanotechnology must approach our task from the perspective of assisting rather than inhibiting this growth. This is why it is vital that a strategic research programme in this area is established sooner rather than later. The IOM is delighted to be part of an international team driving this agenda forward, and we will continue to work closely with government, industry and academia to make this research a reality.’’

The Commentary is the outcome of a workshop held at the IOM in Edinburgh earlier this year. Dr Andrew Maynard , who is internationally recognised as a leading researcher in the field of Nanoparticle safety, is a close collaborator with the SnIRC initiative. Other authors also include several of the leading members of SnIRC: Prof Anthony Seaton, Dr Lang Tran and Dr Rob Aitken (IOM), Prof Vicki Stone ( Napier University ) and Prof Ken Donaldson ( Edinburgh University ).

Prof. Anthony Seaton, Chairman of the SnIRC initiative said “Nanotechnology offers huge opportunities for industry and for society, not least in helping address the challenges of global climate change. Experience with other technological advances suggests that it will not be free of risk, but that such risks can be foreseen and action taken to prevent or reduce them. This paper points to the means and the need for international collaboration in addressing hazard and reducing risk. SnIRC is ready to play its part in this vital process.”  

The full article may be viewed at

16th November 2006

IOM’s SAFEnano Initiative announced as DTI’s newest Nanotechnology Centre - Institute of Occupational Medicine awarded contract for nanotechnology risk information service

Press release of Thursday 2nd November 2006, Edinburgh, UK, reads:

The Institute Of Occupational Medicine’s ‘Safenano Initiative’ has today officially been named as one of the DTI’s 22 Nanotechnology Centres.

The initiative will provide strategic, independent and impartial advice to stakeholders including Industry, Academia and the network of Nanotechnology Centres, concerning the potential risks to human health and the environment from Nanomaterials., due for launch in April 2007, will take the form of a web-based information service with helpdesk support, together with a regular bulletin service and comprehensive database of relevant publications. Emerging scientific evidence concerning the potential risks of nanoparticles and nanotubes, together with information about Health and Safety, Occupational Hygiene, Toxicology and Risk Assessment will be interpreted and delivered to the audience in an integrated way, to support effective risk management.

Commentary and editorial will be provided from experts within the IOM. and partners in SnIRC.

The current project represents the latest stage in IOM’s nanotechnology programme which aims to understand, quantify and control risks posed by Nanomaterials to the workforce, consumers, the general population and the environment through research, consultancy and service work for industry and government.

Dr Rob Aitken, Director of the SAFEnano initiative said “We are extremely pleased to be working with DTI on this important project which represents a real commitment to address nanoparticle risk issues in a coherent way. SAFEnano, by providing independent and impartial advice, will underpin the emerging UK nanotechnology industry and will facilitate the development of new processes and materials in a responsible and safe manner.”

The project director is Dr Rob Aitken – Director of Strategic Consulting at IOM.

Bryony Ross - Research Assistant, IOM, is the editor for the SAFEnano Web Service

2nd November 2006

Nanotechnology: The Next big Thing, Or Much Ado About Nothing?

The Annals of Occupational Hygiene has this week published a key paper on the safety of emerging nanotechnologies by Dr Andrew Maynard of the Woodrow Wilson International Center.

The review, which relates to the Warner lecture given by Dr Maynard at the BOHS Conference 2006, provides an easily understood overview of Nanotechnology as developing industry together with a balanced commentary on current opportunities and issues it faces. Existing gaps in knowledge and strategies for tackling these are addressed, and a discussion of how the occupational hygiene community may work around challenges posed by a lack of knowledge to ensure safety in the Nano Workplace is presented.

Andrew Maynard is internationally recognised as a leading researcher in the field of Nanoparticle safety, and is a close collaborator with SnIRC.

Full text of the paper is available at:

20 October 2006

ICON Review of Safety Practises in the Nanotechnology Industry published.

On the 18th October 2006, the International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON), released a Review of Safety Practises in the Nanotechnology Industry. This represents completion of Phase One of a two phase ICON funded project to document how potential occupational safety risks posed by nanomaterials are currently managed within industry.

The report, prepared by a team of researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), puts forward a summary and analysis of all existing ‘Best Practise’ guides and ongoing efforts to put Risk assessment frameworks in place on a global scale. It also highlights major issues such as the lack of structured documentation on practises in place, and that some documents in current use are not made publicly available.

Phase Two of the Report, due for publication in November of this year, aims to provide a fuller account of practises currently in place, and thus form a basis from which a global strategy for the development of occupational health and safety in the nanotechnology industry may be developed.

The report may be viewed in full at:

Prof Vicki Stone (Napier) is a member of the ICON steering group.

18 October 2006

Launch of Voluntary Reporting Scheme for Engineered Nanoparticles

DEFRA have launched the UK Voluntary Reporting Scheme for Engineered Nanoscale Materials. The purpose of the Voluntary Reporting Scheme is to develop a better understanding of the properties and characteristics of different engineered nanoscale materials, to enabling potential hazard, exposure and risk to be considered.

The type of data that is of interest includes information on material characterisation, hazard, use and exposure potential, risk management practices and the techniques used. Data may be submitted in any format although a form is available to aid the process.
The scheme will run for two years. More information about the scheme can be found at
A VRS was one of the recommendations of the SnIRC report “A scoping study into the manufacture and use of nanomaterials in the UK (CB01070)” published earlier this year.

22 September 2006

NNI report on Environmental, Health and Safety Research Needs for Engineered Nanoscale Materials published

The US National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) has released a document identifying environmental, health, and safety (EHS) research and information needs related to understanding and management of potential risks of engineered nanoscale materials.

The document will be used by US Federal agencies participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) to inform and guide research programs. It also is intended to communicate to industry, universities, and other non-government research entities approaches for obtaining the knowledge and understanding necessary to enable risk assessment and management of nanomaterials.
The report can be accessed at The direct link to the pdf report is

20 September 2006

Nanotechnology and the Occupational Physician

A series of four short papers on nanotechnology issues have been published in the August 2006 volume of Occupational Medicine. The reviews are introduced by Prof Anthony Seaton CBE, Senior Consultant at IOM and Chairman of the SnIRC initiative. They are intended to inform readers of the journal about the history and scope of nanotechnology (Whatmore 2006), its current status in the UK (Aitken et al 2006), lessons for nanotoxicology from nanomedicine applications (Garnett and Kallinteri, 2006) and possible hazards and how they might impact on the work of occupational physicians (Seaton 2006). The reviews may be accessed through the Occupational Medicine website at
14 August 2006

IP Nanoker publishes expert interviews on health effects of nanomaterials

The EU integrated project NANOKER has published two expert interviews on the potential health effects of nanomaterials on its website. The interviews with Prof. Tilmann Butz (University of Leipzig) and Dr Rob Aitken (IOM and SnIRC) can be viewed on the NANOKER website at

17 industrial companies and 7 research centres and European universities participate in the  IP NANOKER project the overall objective of which is to develop and industrialize knowledge-based nanoceramics (<100 nm) and nanocomposites (second phases <10 nm) for top-end functional and structural applications.
10 July 2006

Council for Science and Technology Review of the Government Response to the Royal Society Report.

The Council for Science and Technology (CST) has been asked by Government to review progress of its commitments on nanotechnology policy, and today issued an invitation for written evidence.  The independent review will cover the Government's actions in the two years since their response to the Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering report "Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties".

The Call for Evidence is available from the review's website

The review will be led by Professor Sir John Beringer. Professor Ken Donaldson (Edinburgh University and SnIRC) is a member of the review committee.
6 July 2006

Nanotoxicology – a new Journal by Taylor and Francis

Prof Vicki Stone (Napier University and SnIRC) has been appointed as the new editor of Nanotoxicology, a new scientific journal to be published by Taylor and Francis. Nanotoxicology ( is the first journal with a specific remit to address research into the interactions between nano-structured materials and living matter. Although much of the activity of the journal will involve investigations of the biological interactions with nano-scale materials, its scope should not be seen to end there but to extend to include all man-made nano-structured materials, for example including the interactions between living tissues and the surfaces of prostheses (e.g. wearing can produce nanoparticles) or in the context of 'eco-nanotoxicology' (i.e. the movement of nanomaterials through the biosphere, interactions with bacteria, invertebrates and vertebrates). The journal includes within its scope evidence of harm from nano-structured materials through epidemiological papers from occupational and population studies as well as controlled clinical studies. Prof Ken Donaldson and Dr Lang Tran are both members of the editorial board.
1 July 2006

FP7 Nanotechnology

Rob Aitken, IOM’s Director of Strategic Consulting, and co-ordinator of the SnIRC collaboration, has accepted an invitation to joint the Expert Advisory Group of the EU 7th Framework Program (FP7), for the Nanotechnology. The Framework Program is the European Union's (EU) primary funding mechanism for collaborative Research and Development projects in science, technology and engineering. Nanotechnology will be one of the largest of the 8 themes in the Program. The Expert Advisory Group has a key role in providing input and strategic advice to shape the workprogram. The first calls for FP7 are expected in late 2006 and the program will run until 2013.
1 July 2006.

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