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Nano-Safety Research Group

Specialists in the assessment of nanomaterial toxicity to human health and the environment


We are experts in the assessment of the hazards (toxicity) posed by nanomaterials to human health and the environment. 

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Nanotechnology involves the development and use of materials and objects at the nanoscale (1-100nm). To put the size range of interest into perspective, the size of nanomaterials is comparable to that of the molecules that make up cells, like DNA and proteins. Nanomaterials can exist naturally in the environment, however there has been an increase in the intentional production of nanomaterials over recent years. These ‘engineered nanomaterials’ are being made and developed because substances change their properties when they are so small. The term nanomaterial actually refers to a diverse group of materials that vary in their physical and chemical properties, such as their size, composition, shape and charge. These properties make nanomaterials useful for the development of a wide variety of new products including medicines, food additives, cosmetics, food packaging, electronics, sports equipment and clothing.

Due to the widespread use of nanomaterials, it is critical to identify any potential risks they may pose to human health or the environment. Current research suggests that some nanomaterials are relatively safe while others are more harmful, and it appears that this is linked to the different physical and chemical properties of each nanomaterial. These current uncertainties surrounding nanomaterial risk mean that research is required into nanomaterial safety. Addressing these knowledge gaps will help to ensure that innovation in the rapidly developing area of Nanotechnology is not stifled by concern, but instead by determining risks associated with nanomaterials we can promote the safe, sustainable and responsible use of this technology.