Nanodevice project coordinated by Finland is a European success story

The European Commission has labelled the NANODEVICE project, co-ordinated by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), a success story. The project produced affordable measuring devices for determining the concentrations of nanoparticles in the air. The new NANOSOLUTIONS project is another potential success story, with its aim to create a completely new way of evaluating the health hazards of industrial nanoparticles.

During the NANODEVICE project, FIOH, together with industrial device manufacturers, research institutes and universities, developed measuring devices for evaluating the concentration of industrial nanoparticles in the air. The devices are easy to use, portable, and inexpensive. The smallest ones can be attached to one’s breast pocket and the cheapest cost only two hundred euros. Their use requires no special training.

“The new devices serve both enterprises and authorities. Even a small company can now buy its own device and measure concentrations regularly. Until now the prices of such devices have been far too high for most enterprises. Their use has also required special training,” claims Kai Savolainen , Research Professor at FIOH.

Authorities can use the measurements taken to define limit values for different industrial nanoparticles. As of yet, no country has mandatory, or even recommended limit values.

”It has not been possible to establish new legislation ensuring the safety of nanotechnology, because until now, we have had no trustworthy knowledge of real concentrations at workplaces,” says Savolainen.

Nanosafety requires completely new risk assessment methods

”Not only is knowledge regarding particle concentrations insufficient, but current evaluation methods do not meet requirements. Using the existing slow, expensive procedures, it would take decades to study the characteristics of all the known industrial nanoparticles,” explains FIOH’s Research Professor Harri Alenius .

In order to ensure workers’ safety and the competitiveness of nanotechnology, we need completely new methods for assessing the disadvantages of, exposure to, and risks presented by industrial nanoparticles.

Finding these methods is the aim of the new NANOSOLUTIONS research project. It attempts to identify the characteristics of industrial nanoparticles which predict their potential disadvantages. Another goal is to develop a computer programme that can use the characteristics of industrial nanoparticles to predict the risks they may present to both health and the environment.

”If the project is a success, it will be revolutionary in the field of nanotechnology safety,” continues Alenius.

The research

The NANODEVICE project, which lasted four years and comprised 26 partners, ended on 31.3.13. It was among the top ten best projects in the 2012 Industrial Technologies Best Project Award competition, which sought to discover the European nanotechnology project with the most impact on the economy and on society. The best project had to be able to promote European competitiveness by creating new products and processes.

The four-year NANSOLUTIONS project, which began at the beginning of April this year, has 35 partners from all over the world, representing universities, research institutes, and enterprises.

The EU’s seventh framework programme is providing a total of 20 million euro to fund these two research projects.

FIOH’s Nanosafety Research Centre

  • is Europe’s leading research centre for the safety of industrial nanoparticles, especially in the area of occupational safety.
  • is in practice involved in all significant research projects concerning nanosafety.
  • co-ordinates the co-operation between all the research projects on nanosafety that are funded by the European Commission, i.e. the NanoSafety Cluster
  • co-ordinates the 2015–2025 research strategy related to nanosafety on behalf of the European Union, on which the nanosafety research content of the EU’s new ”Horizon 2020” research programme is based.

Policy Brief "Safety Research on Nanotechnology Needed"

FIOH produces Policy Briefs for Finnish decision-makers, on important, topical issues. These fact sheets briefly present the key information related to a particular topic and provide recommendations for action. Please find attached the fresh policy brief on nanotechnol ogy.

Further information

Mr Kai Savolainen, Research Professor, FIOH, tel. +358 30 474 2200, +358 40 742 0574, Kai.Savolainen[at]ttl.fi
Mr Harri Alenius, Team Leader, Research Professor, FIOH, tel. +358 30 474 2175, +358 40 837 3727, Harri.Alenius [at] ttl.fi

Further reading

Nanosafety Research Centre

NANODEVICE project

Success story

NanoSafety Cluster

Horizon 2020

2012 Industrial Technologies Best Project Award

FIOH's Policy Brief on Nanotechnology

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health researches, develops and specializes in well-being at work. It promotes occupational health and safety and the well-being of workers. It is an independent institution under public law, working under the administrative sector of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. It has six regional offices, and its headquarters are in Helsinki. It employs just under 800 people.

About Us

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (Työterveyslaitos) researches, develops and specializes in well-being at work. It promotes occupational health and safety and the well-being of workers. It is an independent institution under public law, working under the administrative sector of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. It has five regional offices, and its headquarters are in Helsinki. It employs about 560 people.

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