The report, commissioned by the UK Government last year to consider current and future developments in nanotechnology, identifies a range of potential benefits to be gained from nanoscience and nanotechnologies including new materials, more powerful computers and revolutionary medical techniques.
However, the report recommends steps to realize these advantages while minimizing possible future uncertainties and risks. It therefore advises that the UK Government should fund a programme of research to understand the effects of such particles on humans and the environment.
The report also recommends that because of their novel chemical properties nanoparticles and nanotubes should be treated as new chemicals under UK and European legislation. This should then lead to appropriate safety tests and clear labeling.
Moreover, reserchers believe nanotechnologies should be approved separately from other chemicals by an independent scientific safety committee before they are permitted for use in consumer products such as cosmetics.
The report also called for industry to publish details of safety tests showing that the properties of nanoparticles have been taken into account.
Manufactured nanoparticles are currently used for applications such as ultra violet filters in sunscreens.