Nanomaterials have been developed to perform a variety of roles, including stain resistance in clothes, preservatives in food and cancer treatment in drugs. The potential benefits are great, but concerns remain about whether safety issues will arise in the future as more and more nanoparticles are used for different purposes.
Now, a centre for nano safety has been set up at Edinburgh Napier’s Craighouse Campus to identify whether a variety of nanoparticles can enter the human body - as well as other species such as bacteria, insects and plants - and cause harm.
Researchers at the centre aim to discover what characteristics of nanoparticles might make them toxic so that the information can be used by industry to design safer products, by regulators to generate legislation to protect humans and the environment, and by consumers to make more informed choices.
Scientists at the centre have attracted £1.3m worth of funding and have established collaborations with researchers in 27 European countries, as well as the US, Japan and Australia.
Prof Anne Glover, chief scientific adviser for Scotland, officially launched the centre. She said: 'This centre is one of the first in the UK to bring together nanoscience research across human, environment, reproductive health and microbiology to ensure the safe and sustainable use of nanotechnology.'