This space is dedicated to media groups, journalists and communicators whose work is related to science and technology. This is your space to learn more about the role media plays in the NANO2ALL project, and gain access to a list of information sources to be able to provide an objective coverage of the applications of nanotechnologies and their potential risks and benefits. Here we also collected for you selected recommendations from the NANO2ALL project.
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Media and NANO2ALL
Media plays a crucial role in the implementation of the responsible research and innovation (RRI) concept, as it creates a link between science and technology and the society. Several representatives of the media have participated in the NANO2ALL activities, and shared their views around their role in regard of RRI, including drivers and barriers of fulfilling such a role. .
Connect with the project on social media for live debates and online discussions, and we will make sure to bring your needs and concerns to the relevant policy makers, researchers and other groups
Information sources on nanotechnology risks and benefitsSelect resources according to your interest.
Engineered nanoparticles are used in a variety of industrial materials, such as ceramics and advanced polymers. Also, they are commonly used in the production of household materials, cosmetics and textiles. Generally speaking, nanoparticles are considered a pollutant risk if they are able to accumulate in the environment (even though, according to some recent research, nanoparticles might even have beneficial effects for biological organisms). Besides that, they are regarded to as health risks for consumers and at the workplace. Health risks can concern Immunology, Neurology, Gentox, Allergenicity and other domains.
When dealing with possible risk, hazardous properties must be analyzed on the on hand and actual exposure on the other. There are several reasons which suggest that nanomaterials could conceal risks:
- The special (physical-chemical) properties of a nanomaterial, e.g. large, highly reactive (reaction-promoting) surfaces;
- Special behaviour inside the body, e.g. a long retention time and the overcoming of natural biological barriers;
- The increased contamination that is to be expected by their release.
For further information:
The Online-Science Magazine The Conversation provides an overview on recent discussion about questions of risk and risk assessment related to nanomaterials. See also: S. Dekkers et al.’s journal article, “Towards a nanospecific approach for risk assessment”, published in Regulatory Toxikology and Pharmacology. German readers might have a look at the University St. Gallen’s report “Wie können Versicherer mit Nano-Risiken umgehen?“
Older works include:
Institutions and professional bodies from different areas are concerned with the assessment of risks associated with nanotechnology:
Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Germany
EFSA Scientific Network of Risk Assessment of Nanotechnologies in Food and Feed
UBA (Umweltbundesamt), Germany
- The Center brings together scientists from across disciplines (material science, chemistry, exposure assessment, risk assessment, nanotoxicology and nanobiology) to assess the potential Environmental Health and safety (EHS) implications of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). The Center unites researchers from Harvard University, the MIT, the University of Maine and the University of Florida.
- Academic journal focusing on research relating to the potential for human and environmental exposure, hazard and risk associated with the use and development of nano-structured materials.
- Multidisciplinary journal focusing on nanosafety research and areas related to the impacts of manufactured nanomaterials on human and environmental systems and the behavior of nanomaterials in these systems.
- Established as a Centre of Excellence in Nanosafety in 2006 at the UK’s Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), SAFENANO provides industry, academia and governments with independent authoritative expertise and state-of-the-art facilities to enable effective risk management.
Other topics of public interest
Other impacts result from the specific use-cases of products based on nanomaterials. Three examples:
a) Smart Textiles
- One field of application for nanomaterials is ‘smart textiles’ – textiles designed for the use of wearable computing, especially in the field of health-services, but also for other purposes. Reinforced silk, for instance, produced by the silkworms fed with graphene or carbon nanotubes, could be used in applications such as durable protective fabrics, biodegradable medical implants, and ecofriendly wearable electronics. Smart textiles have implications both for privacy and for public health.
- Privacy is concerned, because smart textiles facilitate the transmission of personal data and information. (“Pervasive” or “ubiquitous” computing is the general area of concern here.)
- Public health is an issue insofar as health monitoring (which includes the storage and analysis of medical data harvested with the help of smart textiles) can be used for the design of insurance and treatment programs. Those programs are of public concern because they often go along with shifting burden and benefits from one group of patients to another.
- Another area, where nanomaterials are frequently employed, is robotics. Such use comprises “bio-bots” (powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical and optical impulses), robots with artificial skin, or underwater robots mimicking ocean life – to mention just a few examples. For further information, see for instance, the news section at Nanowerk for recent research in the field of nanorobotics.
- Robotics poses ethical challenges in areas such as algorithm ethics and the ethics of Artificial Intelligence. One often-discussed question, for example, is whether or not robots a ban of ‘killer robots’ is suitable and possible. Broader issues concern general problems of algorithmic decision-making and algorithmic accountability, social implication of disruptive technologies or the potential of AI.
- Nanomaterials are of particular interest for the design of biofuels. One example for the role of nanotechnology is the growing of microalgae to aid in the production of biofuels. Biofuels bear various social, economic, environmental and technical issues. These issues include effects on the price of energy and oil, the “food vs fuel” debate, carbon emission levels, impacts on biodiversity, and many others.