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Nanomaterials: tiny particles, colossal issues

Chemical substances or materials made and used on a tiny scale are nanomaterials. Nanomaterials are created to have unique properties compared to materials that do not have nanoscale features, such as greater strength, chemical reactivity, or conductivity.

by Prittle Prattle Team
Nanomaterials: tiny particles, colossal issues

The European Commission issued a specific suggestion on defining a nanomaterial (EC, 2011) in 2011, which should be used in European regulations such as REACH and CLP. A “nanomaterial” is defined as follows in this Recommendation:

A natural, accidental, or produced material containing particles in an unbound state, as an aggregate, or as an aggregation, with one or more exterior dimensions in the size range 1 nm – 100 nm for 50% or more of the particles in the number size distribution.

The 50 percent number size distribution threshold may be substituted with a point between 1 and 50 percent in specific instances, as needed by environmental, health, safety, or competitiveness reasons.

Fullerenes, graphene flakes, and single-wall carbon nanotubes with one or more exterior dimensions less than 1 nm should be considered nanomaterials in derogation from the preceding.

Many of the specialties we use every day are made of nanomaterials, which rely on the capacity to design, create, and manipulate materials invisible to the naked eye on a microscopic scale. Nanomaterials are up to 10,000 times more diminutive than the width of a human hair to provide you with a concept of how small they are. They’re found in everything from paintings to cosmetics.

What sets nanomaterials apart from other chemical compounds?
When we look at materials up close, we often notice that nanoparticles act differently and have different properties than their larger counterparts. This makes it hard to envision how these tiny particles will behave under various circumstances, and this unpredictability raises some serious concerns.

A raincoat, for example, feels wonderfully soft to the touch. Still, closer inspection reveals that it is composed of molecules coordinated in cross-links to make fabrics that repel water and other liquids. Nanotechnology may be responsible for how fluid creates tiny beads on waterproof garments.

But is it safe to wear such technology so near to our skin, and does it pose a threat to the environment?

Exposure to nanoparticles is being assessed.
The global nanomaterials industry will rise to USD 38.2 billion by 2029, from USD 10.3 billion in 2020. (Business Wire, 2021). Human and environmental exposures are unavoidable with the rapid increase of nano-enabled items entering the market each year, raising worries about such developing nanomaterials’ environmental health and safety. While our scientific understanding and ability to explain and describe the properties of nanomaterials is quickly growing, it is still limited.
In determining the risk of chemicals, exposure assessment is an unavoidable step. Direct analytical analysis in air, water, or food determines exposure, but it is costly. Another option is to forecast their direction using tools and models. For decades, such models have been used successfully to estimate exposure to conventional chemicals.
What is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development solving this field’s knowledge gaps?
Since 2007, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Nanosafety Programme has worked on several projects to fill knowledge gaps in assessing nanomaterial exposure. The goals of three recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development programs are: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development assembled available methods and models and evaluated their application to predicting nanomaterial exposure to employees, consumers, and the environment under the leadership of Canada, Denmark, and the United States.
In total, 54 models were evaluated based on their scope, user-friendliness, sensitivity, and performance. Ten occupational, seven consumer, and six environmental tools/models were recommended or rated as suitable for monitoring nanomaterial exposure based on the findings of this study, while specific problems remain.
What will be done with the findings to improve nanomaterial safety?
Chemical businesses and regulators can select the appropriate tool or model for assessing nanomaterial exposure for specific reasons, such as risk evaluations under chemical safety legislation. Chemical industries, for example, utilize such simulations to see if a new nanomaterial can be used safely before putting it on the market. Similarly, authorities operate such models to assess whether additional risk management measures for workers who handle the materials are required for the new nanomaterial.

This release is articulated by Prittle Prattle News in the form of an authored article.

Video Courtesy: SLICE 

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