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Swiss research organisation to oversee EU funded nanoparticle safety project

By Andrew MCDOUGALL , 06-Sep-2012
Last updated on 06-Sep-2012 at 12:26 GMT

The Centre Suisse d'Electronique et de Microtechnique (CSEM) will coordinate a four-year project aimed at developing a technology platform for the measurement of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) which could be key in assessing the safety risks of ENPs in cosmetic products.

The SMART-NANO project aims to develop an innovative, cost-effective solution for the detection, identification, and measurement of ENPs in a wide range of matrices.

SMART-NANO stands for Sensitive MeAsuRemenT, detection, and identification of engineered NANOparticles in complex matrices and operates under the European Commission's 7th Framework Program, receiving €3.5 million of funding.

Parallel with new legislation

Swiss research and technology organisation CSEM will manage the project which will draw the interest of several industries, not just cosmetics.

Recently there was an introduction of legislation concerning the labeling requirements of cosmetic products containing nanoparticles and the growing need for inspection and monitoring of ENP-containing consumer products.

The new legislation calls for highly sensitive and specific methods which can be practically implemented to detect and measure nanoparticles. This is vital if nanomaterials are to achieve widespread use and acceptance.

Biggest challenge

“Today, the biggest challenge that researchers face is to develop a technology platform that can be used in a wide range of application scenarios, in fields ranging from food, to clothing and cosmetic products, with just minimal adjustments and optimizations for new applications,” says a CSEM statement.

“In this context, there currently appears to be a lack of technological progress and, more importantly, a lack of integration between the technologies used for sample preparation, ENPs' isolation, as well as for their measurement and identification.”

Nanotechnology is having an increasing impact on many industrial sectors and the use of nanoparticles is now widespread such as in cosmetic sunscreens.

It is estimated that three to four new products containing some form of nanomaterial enter the market every week and that by 2014 €1.6 trillion of manufactured goods will be based on nanotechnology.

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