Lord Drayson, the UK science and innovation minister and chair of the Ministerial Group on Nanotechnologies, has called on industry to get involved in shaping a UK strategy for nanotechnologies.
Industry, academia and consumer groups have been invited to use a new website at www.interactive.bis.gov.uk/nano to help develop the strategy, building on existing research that has already taken place.
'The government has made clear the need for responsible development of nanotechnologies. This new website will let everyone be involved in developing a new UK strategy by February next year. This will address the exploitation of technologies and management of potential risks,' said Drayson.
Over in Canada, there is also concern about the potential impact of nanotechnologies on the environment.
This month, a team of scientists and engineers, led by the University of Alberta and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), was awarded $3.39m (£1.86m) to take part in a three-year study to assess the potential effects of nanoparticles in water-based environments.
'This research will allow the nanotechnology industry to proceed with confidence that the environmental safety of their products can be properly assessed. In addition, the companies can use the knowledge gained to properly engineer their products with reduced environmental impact,' said Dr Greg Goss, a project co-leader and professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta.
The research team will also develop new testing techniques specifically designed for assessing the impact of new nanomaterials because classic toxicity tests may not be appropriate. The toxicological data derived from the project will provide a foundation for a science-based policy on the environmental risk assessment of nanoparticles.