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Special Session at SETAC World Congress 2012

SNNI chairs a session at the 6th SETAC World Congress / SETAC Europe 22nd Annual Meeting to be held in the Estrel hotel in Berlin from 20-24 May 2012

Greener nanotechnology, an integrative approach to an emerging technology

Conference chairs: James Hutchison, SNNI Director and Kira Matus, London School of Economics

Description: Nanotechnology promises to revolutionize many areas within science and technology ranging from electronics to medicine. Unprecedented size-dependent material properties are being discovered in nanoscale materials. These properties can be harnessed to produce entirely new materials. Given the predicted widespread use of nanomaterials and the potential for new, size-dependent hazards, concerns have arisen about the biological and environmental impact of the materials and the processes used to manufacture them. The putative risks associated with manufacture and use of these new nanomaterials has been the subject of much debate. Spurred, in part, by calls for moratoria on nanomaterials and studies suggesting possible hazards, scientific and regulatory groups have come together in order to move the technology forward while concurrently considering the biological/ecological impacts. Despite the thousands of articles published on the biological impacts of nanomaterials, there is still little consensus. Though these early studies employed rigorous testing regimes, they assumed that nanomaterials would behave like their bulk counterparts, thus not considering the unique properties of nanomaterials such as size, shape, charge, surface area or purity. This led to batch-to-batch variations in toxicological responses of ‘off-the-shelf’ nanomaterials. Recent studies show that impurities and nanomaterial composition (e.g. surface chemistry, ligands, charge, etc.) dramatically affect the results. This partly explains why toxicological responses reported in the literature vary so widely. Adopting an integrative approach to nanoscience that incorporates the principles of green chemistry and concurrently considers the safety of nanomaterials will be crucial to moving the field forward. Green nanoscience applies the principles of green chemistry to nanoscience in order to rationally design safe, yet high-performance, nanoscale materials, develop efficient and inexpensive manufacturing approaches to these materials, and incorporate nanoscale materials into high-performance microscale or larger devices. This approach will simultaneously provide opportunities to meet these challenges and to develop sustainable technologies and materials. Although many have embraced the principles of green chemistry and recognize the need for sound science to inform policy, reducing these principles to practice remains a barrier for most commercial endeavors. This session will explore strategies to develop safer nanomaterials and nanomanufacturing methods, offer guidance to policy makers and provide tools for industry in adoption of cleaner production methods.

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