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NANOGENETOX – safety evaluation of manufactured nanomaterials by characterisation of their potential genotoxic hazard

A call for a Joint Action on "the Safety of Nanomaterials" under Section 3.2 "Improve citizens' health security" of the Community Public Health Program work program was published on Thursday, 26 February 2009, following an initial proposal by France (DGS). This Joint action was approved in July 2009 for 6.2 millions of Euros of which 2.9 M€ (46%) were funded by European Commission’s health programme, while partners and some ministries of the participating Member States (Belgium, France, Germany, and Netherlands) provide the remaining. The Action was launched on 18-19 March at the AFSSET (Paris, France) the project aims to obtain a sound and reliable method for detecting the potential genotoxicity of manufactured nanomaterials within 3 years. NIOM is one of the partners in the project.

Nanotechnology is a highly strategic industrial and economic sector revealing enormous potential benefits for many societal and environmental domains. Human exposure to manufactured nanomaterials used in consumer products may occur during several phases of their life cycle: from synthesis, production and inclusion in the final products to the release of manufactured nanomaterials to the environment (through industrial emissions or product disposal). Nanotoxicology, that study of the potential adverse effects of chemicals (in our case nanomaterials) on living organisms, is thus attracting the attention of the public and of governments worldwide. The lack of scientific knowledge and absence of evidence of the health and safety potential hazards of nanotechnology products, however, make regulation very difficult.

The general objective of the JA is to complement, support and add value to the Member States' policies and to contribute to increasing the safe use of MNs in the European Union. The JA intends to improve citizens' health security by:

  • Strengthening, expanding and sharing the knowledge required for the assessment of the hazard, exposure and overall risk of MNs at the European level. The JA provides a genuine European dimension since it involves a significant number of institutions from many Member States. It will contribute to building a strategy able to generate relevant and reliable data for Public Health authorities to assess the risk of nanomaterials
  • Accelerating the exploitation of existing data (using previous and ongoing EU FP6 and F P7 projects (e.g. NANOSTRAND, NANOSAFE, NANOSH, NANOINTERACT) and the exchange of best practices in risk assessment and management thus minimising the potentially harmful long-term effects of MNs. The JA will thus contribute to giving society alert signals for genotoxic substances. It will constitute the first step towards the creation of a future programme based on long-term animal studies or epidemiological population surveillance by Public Health authorities.

Project manager: prof. Konrad Rydzyński, MD, PhD:

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