Tag Archives: European Commission

Heart of stone

Researchers in Europe do not want to find out what would Europe look like without its stone castles, Stonehenge, Coliseum, cathedrals, and other monumental stone structures, and have found a possible solution to the problem of deterioration according to an Oct. 20, 2014 news item on Nanowerk,

Castles and cathedrals, statues and spires… Europe’s built environment would not be the same without these witnesses of centuries past. But, eventually, even the hardest stone will crumble. EU-funded researchers have developed innovative nanomaterials to improve the preservation of our architectural heritage.

“Our objective,” says Professor Gerald Ziegenbalg of IBZ Salzchemie, “was to find new possibilities to consolidate stone and mortar, especially in historical buildings.” The products available at the time, he adds, didn’t meet the full range of requirements, and some could actually damage the artefacts they were meant to preserve. Alternatives compatible with the original materials were needed.

A July 9, 2014 European Commission press release, which originated the news item, provides more details about this project (Note: A link has been removed),

 Ziegenbalg was the coordinator of the Stonecore project, which rose to this monumental challenge within a mere three years. It developed and commercialised a new type of material that penetrates right into the stone, protecting it without any risk of damage or harmful residues. The team also invented new ways to assess damage to stone and refined a number of existing techniques.

The concept behind the new material developed by the Stonecore partners is ingenious. It involves lime nanoparticles suspended in alcohol, a substance that evaporates completely upon exposure to air. The nanoparticles then react with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to form limestone.

This innovation is on the market under the brand name CaLoSil. It is available in various consistencies – liquids and pastes – and in a number of formulations based on different types of alcohol, as well as with added filler materials such as marble. The product is applied by dipping, spraying or injection into the stone.

Beyond its use as a consolidant, CaLoSil can also be used to clean stone and mortar, as it helps to treat fungus and algae. The dehydrating effect of the alcohol and the acidity of the lime destroy the cells, and the growth can then be washed off. This method, says Ziegenbalg, is more effective than conventional chemical or mechanical approaches, and it does not damage the stone.

Limestone face-lifts

The partners tested their new product in a number of locations across Europe, on a wide variety of materials exposed to very different conditions. Together, they rejuvenated statues and sculptures, saved features in cathedrals and citadels, and treated materials as diverse as sandstone, marble and tuff.

The opportunity to access such a wide variety of sites, says Ziegenbalg, was one of the many advantages of working with partners from several countries. It pre-empted the risk of developing a product that was too narrowly focused on a specific application.

Inside the heart of stone

A number of techniques enable conservation teams to assess the state of the objects in their care. To obtain a clearer picture of deeper damage, Stonecore improved existing approaches involving ultrasound, developing a new device. The project also pioneered a new technique based on ground-penetrating radar, which one partner is now offering as a commercial service.

The team also developed an innovative micro-drilling tool and refined an existing technique for measuring the water uptake of stone.

A further innovation is a new technique to measure surface degradation. For this so-called “peeling test”, a length of adhesive tape is affixed to the object. The weight of the particles that come off with the tape when it is removed indicate how likely the stone is to degrade.

Carving out solutions

The partners’ achievements have not gone unnoticed. In 2013, Stonecore was shortlisted along with 10 other projects for the annual EuroNanoForum’s Best Project Award.

Ziegenbalg attributes the team’s success mainly to the partners’ wide range of complementary expertise, and to their dedication. “The participating small and medium-sized enterprises were extremely active,” he says. “They were highly motivated to handle the more practical work, while the universities supported them with the necessary research input.”

While it’s not clear from this press release or the Stonecore website, it appears this project has run its course as part of European Union’s Framework Programme 7.

Nanoeducation compendium (2012) from the European Commission

Michael Berger has written an Oct. 6, 2014 Nanowerk Spotlight article about the European Commission’s NANOTECHNOLOGIES: Principles, Applications, Implications and Hands-on Activities: A compendium for educators published in 2012. From the article,

The lessons, discussions on applications and hands-on experiments presented in this book have been tested and enriched by hundreds of teachers, professors and educators from about one thousand schools in 20 countries in Europe and beyond, involving about 40.000 students.

The educational materials in this compendium are organized in three self-contained modules to offer increased flexibility throughout the development of the course, addressing the fundamental concepts, the main application areas and selected hands-on experiments.

Moreover, a case study approach provides educators and teachers with practical applications and examples to discuss in class. Background materials, literature reviews, specific case studies and ideas are presented to show educators how to address nanosciences and nanotechnologies concepts. Topics dealing with the ethical, societal and safety aspects of nanotechnologies are also included to help educators encouraging class debates, referenced with other European projects and relevant webpages.

One caveat, two years later some of the material may be dated, e.g., webpages may have been moved.

There is an overview of various nanoeducation materials and organizations in the European Union provided in a Dec. 18, 2013 posting for NanoDiode (an innovative, coordinated programme for outreach and dialogue throughout Europe to support the effective governance of nanotechnologies; Note: links have been removed),

The need for education features prominently in European policy texts such as the European Commission’s Strategy for Nanotechnology of 2004 and its Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies Action Plan of 2005, which aims to ‘Promote networking and disseminate ‘best practice’s for education and training in N&N.’  Along with similar policy mandates for education on European member states and in other parts of the globe, this has resulted in a wide range of nanotechnology education activities over the last decade. The European project NANOYOU for instance organised a range of education activities such as a poster, film, contest, virtual dialogue, cards, role play, lab experiments, puzzle and games, and a website in 13 languages. In a similar fashion, the European project TimeforNano developed a range of educational materials and events (News & events, a video competition, a NanoKIT, a quiz and a website in 9 languages). The recent compendium for educators made on the basis of NANOYOU and, to a lesser extent, TimeforNano presents an extensive overview on the relevant principles, applications, implications and hands-on activities for nanotechnology education. [emphasis mine; this is the 2012 compendium mentioned in this post]

NISENet (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network) features the compendium and offers more information and a link to it from here.

Most recently (Sept. 30, 2014 post), I featured a nanoeducation effort in Estonia The country is participating in the Quantum Spin-Off Project which offers an entrepreneurial aspect, as well as, education in the field of nanotechnology/nanoscience.

The imperfections of science advice noted amidst rumblings in Europe

The current science advice rumblings in Europe seem to have been launched on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 with an open letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the European Commission, from representatives of nine nongovernmental agencies (NGOs).

From the July 22, 2014 letter on the Corporate Europe Observatory website,

We are writing to you to express our concerns regarding the position of Chief Scientific Advisor to the President of the European Commission. This post was created by Commission President Barroso at the suggestion of the United Kingdom, and was held by Ms Anne Glover since January 2012. The mandate of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) is “to provide independent expert advice on any aspect of science, technology and innovation as requested by the President”.1

We are aware that business lobbies urge you to continue with the practice established by Mr Barroso and even to strengthen the chief adviser’s formal role in policy making.2 We, by contrast, appeal to you to scrap this position. The post of Chief Scientific Adviser is fundamentally problematic as it concentrates too much influence in one person, and undermines in-depth scientific research and assessments carried out by or for the Commission directorates in the course of policy elaboration.

Interestingly, they offer only one specific instance of Glover’s  advice with which they disagree: genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Note: Links have been removed,

To the media, the current CSA presented one-sided, partial opinions in the debate on the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture, repeatedly claiming that there was a scientific consensus about their safety3 whereas this claim is contradicted by an international statement of scientists (currently 297 signatories) saying that it “misrepresents the currently available scientific evidence and the broad diversity of opinion among scientists on this issue.”4

Unfortunately, that argument renders the letter into an expression of political pique especially since  the signatories are described as anti-GMO both in Roger Pielke’s July 24, 2014 opinion piece for the Guardian newspaper and in Sile Lane’s July 25, 2014 opinion piece for the New Scientist journal. As Pielke notes, the reference to GMOs overshadows some reasonable concerns expressed in their letter (from Pielke’s opinion piece; Note: Links have been removed),

While it is easy to ridicule the recommendation to abolish the science adviser, there is some merit in the complaints levied by the disaffected NGOs. They express concern that the CSA has been “unaccountable, intransparent and controversial”, singling out public statements by Anne Glover on genetically modified organisms. [emphasis mine]

Perhaps surprisingly, these groups find an ally in these complaints in none other than Glover herself who recently complained about the politicization of science advice within the European Union: “What happens at the moment – whether it’s in commission, parliament or council – is that time and time again, if people don’t like what’s being proposed, what they say is that there is something wrong with the evidence.” [emphasis mine]

Pielke’s piece draws parallels between the US situation (in particular but not confined to Richard Nixon’s policies in the 1970s) and Europe’s current situation. It is well worth reading as is Lane’s piece (Sile Lane is Director of Campaigns for Sense about Science; scroll down about 25% of the way), which amongst other arguments, provides a counter-argument to the criticism of Glover’s advice on GMOs,

… No matter that Glover has faithfully and accurately represented the strong scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs – that, in the words of a commission report, are “no more risky than conventional plant breeding technologies”.

This is a position supported by every major scientific institution in the world, and all the scientific academies of countries and regions, but denied by the anti-GMO lobby, which promotes its own alternative “consensus” of a small ragtag group of academics out on the fringes of the mainstream.

There are a number of letters from various organizations countering the July 22, 2014 salvo/letter including this from Sense about Science,

Many other organisations are sending their own letters including nine European medical research organisations and the European Plant Science Organisation representing 227 public research institutions across Europe.

Dear Mr Juncker

We write to you with some urgency in response to a letter you will have just received from nine NGOs urging you to abolish the position of Chief Scientific Advisor to the President of the European Commission. The letter, which includes Greenpeace as a signatory as well as other prominent NGO voices, alleges that the “post of Chief Scientific Adviser is fundamentally problematic” and asks you to “scrap this position”1.

As organisations and individuals who share a commitment to improving the evidence available to policy makers, we cannot stress strongly enough our objection to any attempt to undermine the integrity and independence of scientific advice received at the highest level of the European Commission. …

You can add your name to the letter by going here.

There is a July 28, 2014 posting on the Science Advice to Governments; a global conference website which provides a listing of the various opinion pieces, letters, and other responses. (Note: This global science advice conference being held in Auckland, New Zealand, Aug. 28 – 29, 2014 was first mentioned here in an April 8, 2014 posting which lists the then confirmed speakers and notes a few other tidbits.)

In the end, it seems that everyone can agree as per the comments in the July 22, 2014 letter from the nine NGOs that science advice needs to be transparent and accountable. As for controversy, that will remain a problem as long as human beings live on the earth.

Science…For Her!—a book for those of us who like our science to be funny

The book, Science…For Her!, written by Megan Amram, a comedy writer whose credits include the Kroll Show and Parks and Recreation (US television programmes, won’t be available until Nov. 4, 2014 but it can be pre-ordered at Barnes & Noble or Powell’s (I figure Amazon gets enough advertising and I want to help bookstores that have a bricks & mortar presence, as well as, an online presence).

Thanks to David Bruggeman and the April 23, 2014 posting on his Pasco Phronesis blog where I first learned of this upcoming book (Note: Links have been removed),

There’s another science mashup coming your way later this year.  It’s a textbook written by comedy writer (Parks and Recreation) Megan Amram.  Science…For Her! comes out November 4, and stands a chance of provoking the same kind of reaction as the initial video for the European Commission’s campaign – ‘Science, it’s a girl thing‘.

For anyone unfamiliar with the European Commission’s campaign, check out Olga Khazan’s June 22, 2012 Washington Post story (h/t David Bruggeman) which is a relatively kind comment in comparison to some of the other responses to the campaign some of which I chronicled in my July 6, 2012 posting about it.

Getting back to Science…For Her!, here’s a bit more about the book from an April 22, 2014 posting by Madeleine Davies for Jezebel,

Of the book, Amram writes:

Science…For Her! is a science textbook written by a lady (me) for other ladies (you, the Spice Girls, etc.) It has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout history: female brains aren’t biologically constructed to understand scientific concepts, and tiny female hands aren’t constructed to turn most textbooks’ large, extra-heavy covers.

Finally, a science textbook for us.

[downloaded from http://meganamram.tumblr.com/post/83522299626/science-for-her]

[downloaded from http://meganamram.tumblr.com/post/83522299626/science-for-her]

As David notes elsewhere in his April 23, 2014 posting, the cover has a very ‘Cosmo’ feel with titles such as ‘orgasms vs. organisms’ and ‘sexiest molecules’. The Barnes & Noble ‘Science…For Her Page!, offers more details,

Megan Amram, one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30 in Hollywood & Entertainment,” Rolling Stone’s “25 Funniest People on Twitter,” and a writer for NBC’s hit show Parks and Recreation, delivers a politically, scientifically, and anatomically incorrect “textbook” that will have women screaming with laughter, and men dying to know what the noise is about.

In the vein of faux expert books by John Hodgman and Amy Sedaris, Science…for Her! is ostensibly a book of science written by a denizen of women’s magazines. Comedy writer and Twitter sensation Megan Amram showcases her fiendish wit with a pitch-perfect attack on everything from those insanely perky tips for self-improvement to our bizarre shopaholic dating culture to the socially mandated pursuit of mind-blowing sex to the cringe-worthy secret codes of food and body issues.

Part hilarious farce, part biting gender commentary, Amram blends Cosmo and science to highlight absurdities with a machine-gun of laugh-inducing lines that leave nothing and no one unscathed. Subjects include: this Spring’s ten most glamorous ways to die; tips for hosting your own big bang; what religion is right for your body type; and the most pressing issue facing women today: kale!!!

I appreciate the humour and applaud Amram’s wit. I also feel it should be noted that there is some very good science writing to be found (occasionally) in women’s magazines (e.g. Tracy Picha’s article ‘The Future of Our Body’ in an August 2009 issue  of Flare magazine [mentioned in my July 24, 2009 posting featuring human enhancement technologies’). As well, Andrew Maynard, physicist and then chief science advisor for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, now NSF (US National Science Foundation) International Chair of Environmental Health Sciences and Director, University of Michigan Risk Science Center, once commented that one of the best descriptions of nanotechnology that he’d ever read was in an issue of Elle magazine.

Aug. 5, 2014 deadline for European Union public consultation on measures to increase transparency on nanomaterials on the market

A May 14, 2014 news item on Nanowerk announces a new ‘nanomaterials’ consultation (Public Consultation  on Impact Assessment on Possible Measures to Increase Transparency on Nanomaterials on the Market) in Europe,

As part of the Communication on the Second Regulatory Review on Nanomaterials, the European Commission has announced to launch an impact assessment to identify and develop the most adequate means to increase transparency and ensure regulatory oversight on nanomaterials.

The text of the May 14, 2014 news item can be found on this announcement page, which explains the background leading up to this consultation and the role of the companies  engaged to hold the study and the consultation, on the Risk Policy Analysts website,

More information on the background, methodology and planned timing of this impact assessment can be found in the working document – CASG(Nano)/02/14 (an updated version including a final version of the problem definition, objectives and policy options will be published in the second half of May). This document also contains a draft problem definition, policy objectives and a more detailed description of the following policy options that are under consideration:

     0.  Baseline scenario

  1. Recommendation on how to implement a “best practice model” for Member States wishing to establish a national system (soft law approach)
  2. Structured approach to collect information (“Nanomaterials Observatory”)
  3. Regulation creating an EU nanomaterial registry with one annual registration per substance for each manufacturer/importer/downstream user/distributor
  4. Regulation creating an EU nanomaterial registry with one annual registration per use (including substances, mixtures and articles with intended release)

The European Commission (DG Enterprise and Industry) has commissioned Risk & Policy Analysts Ltd. (RPA) and BiPRO GmbH to undertake a study to support the Commission on the preparation of this impact assessment. The terms of reference and the resulting reports are available here.

The description of the terms for the public consultation follows,

This public consultation is an integral part of this study. The objective of the public consultation is to obtain stakeholder views on the currently available information on nanomaterials on the market (as defined here), the problem definition that forms the basis of the impact assessment, as well as the potential positive and/or negative impacts of the aforementioned policy options.

Please be aware that within the European Union, France has already established a mandatory reporting scheme for manufactured nanomaterials produced, imported or distributed in its territory.  The Interministerial decree No. 2012-232 entered into force in January 2013. Moreover, at European level, when cosmetic products containing nanomaterials are put on the EU market, Article 16 of Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 requires the responsible persons to submit information on the nanomaterial(s) contained through the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal.   Further information on these and other proposed schemes is available here.

Complete the questionnaire for non-industry stakeholders

(preview in pdf or in Word)

Complete the questionnaire for industry stakeholders

(preview in pdf or in Word)

Please note that, if your company/organisation is registered in the Transparency Register, you will be requested to indicate your Register ID number.  Your contribution will then be considered as representing the views of your organisation.  If your organisation is not registered, you have the opportunity to learn more and/or register now.

Please note that if your company has to notify to the French Notification System and/or to the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal but did not participate in the consultation undertaken by RPA/BiPRO for the European Commission in early 2014, please take the time to fill in the questionnaire on the administrative burden of the notification schemes which is available here.

I wonder what it means when the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal does not participate. This nonparticipation adds a level of intrigue I hadn’t anticipated when I caught sight of this announcement. Are the ‘cosmetics portal’ people boycotting the consultation for some reason?

* Upper case ‘M” changed to lower case ‘m’ in head on May 16, 2014 at 9:47 am PDT.

Monitoring air pollution at home, at work, and in the car—the nano way

Meagan Clark, in an April 18, 2014  article for International Business Times, writes about a project in the EU (European Union) where researchers are working to develop nanotechnology-enabled sensors for air quality at home, at work, and in the car,

Poor indoor and outdoor air quality is linked to one in eight deaths worldwide or 7 million, making it the world’s most dangerous environmental health risk, according to a March [2014?] report by the World Health Organization.

That is the reasoning behind the European Union’s decision to fund a new nanotechnology project [IAQSENSE] that would allow people to gauge air quality real-time at home, work and in cars with low cost, mini sensor systems, the EU’s community research and development information service announced Friday [April 18, 2014].

“The control of indoor air quality and the related comfort it provides should have a huge societal impact on health, presence at work and economic-related factors,” Claude Iroulart, coordinator of IAQSENSE, said in a statement. …

The IAQSENSE homepage provides more details about itself,

The indoor air quality (IAQ) influences the health and well-being of people. For the last 20 years, there has been a growing concern regarding pollutants in closed environments and the difficulty in identifying these pollutants and their critical levels, without heavy, expensive equipment.

IAQSense aims to develop new nanotechnology based sensor systems that will precisely monitor the composition of the air in terms of both chemical and bio contaminants. This system will be miniaturized, low cost and adapted to mass production.

A major challenge consists of a gaz [sic] sensor system which must be at the same time low cost and highly sensitive and selective.  IAQSense relies on three patented technologies, of which one is based on surface ion mobility dynamics separating each gas component. Working like a spectrometer it allows high sensitivity fast multi-gas detection in a way never seen before.

IAQSense Project will characterize, monitor and improve indoor air quality in an innovative way.

The consortium is composed of 4 SMEs [small to medium enterprises[, 3 industrial companies and 3 research institutes. The project will last 3 years (01.09.2013 – 31.08.2016) and will deliver a complete sensor system.

The IAQSense research project has received funding from the European Community´s 7th Framework Programme under grant agreement n° 6043125.

As someone who has suffered from breathing problems from time to time, I wish them the best with this project .

Nanomaterials and safety: Europe’s non-governmental agencies make recommendations; (US) Arizona State University initiative; and Japan’s voluntary carbon nanotube management

I have three news items which have one thing in common, they concern nanomaterials and safety. Two of these of items are fairly recent; the one about Japan has been sitting in my drafts folder for months and I’m including it here because if I don’t do it now, I never will.

First, there’s an April 7, 2014 news item on Nanowerk (h/t) about European non-governmental agencies (CIEL; the Center for International Environmental Law and its partners) and their recommendations regarding nanomaterials and safety. From the CIEL April 2014 news release,

CIEL and European partners* publish position paper on the regulation of nanomaterials at a meeting of EU competent authorities

*ClientEarth, The European Environmental Bureau, European citizen’s Organization for Standardisation, The European consumer voice in Standardisation –ANEC, and Health Care Without Harm, Bureau of European Consumers

… Current EU legislation does not guarantee that all nanomaterials on the market are safe by being assessed separately from the bulk form of the substance. Therefore, we ask the European Commission to come forward with concrete proposals for a comprehensive revision of the existing legal framework addressing the potential risks of nanomaterials.

1. Nanomaterials are different from other substances.

We are concerned that EU law does not take account of the fact that nano forms of a substance are different and have different intrinsic properties from their bulk counterpart. Therefore, we call for this principle to be explicitly established in the REACH, and Classification Labeling and Packaging (CLP) regulations, as well as in all other relevant legislation. To ensure adequate consideration, the submission of comprehensive substance identity and characterization data for all nanomaterials on the market, as defined by the Commission’s proposal for a nanomaterial definition, should be required.

Similarly, we call on the European Commission and EU Member States to ensure that nanomaterials do not benefit from the delays granted under REACH to phase-in substances, on the basis of information collected on their bulk form.

Further, nanomaterials, due to their properties, are generally much more reactive than their bulk counterpart, thereby increasing the risk of harmful impact of nanomaterials compared to an equivalent mass of bulk material. Therefore, the present REACH thresholds for the registration of nanomaterials should be lowered.

Before 2018, all nanomaterials on the market produced in amounts of over 10kg/year must be registered with ECHA on the basis of a full registration dossier specific to the nanoform.

2. Risk from nanomaterials must be assessed

Six years after the entry into force of the REACH registration requirements, only nine substances have been registered as nanomaterials despite the much wider number of substances already on the EU market, as demonstrated by existing inventories. Furthermore, the poor quality of those few nano registration dossiers does not enable their risks to be properly assessed. To confirm the conclusions of the Commission’s nano regulatory review assuming that not all nanomaterials are toxic, relevant EU legislation should be amended to ensure that all nanomaterials are adequately assessed for their hazardous properties.

Given the concerns about novel properties of nanomaterials, under REACH, all registration dossiers of nanomaterials must include a chemical safety assessment and must comply with the same information submission requirements currently required for substances classified as Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or Reprotoxic (CMRs).

3. Nanomaterials should be thoroughly evaluated

Pending the thorough risk assessment of nanomaterials demonstrated by comprehensive and up-to-date registration dossiers for all nanoforms on the market, we call on ECHA to systematically check compliance for all nanoforms, as well as check the compliance of all dossiers which, due to uncertainties in the description of their identity and characterization, are suspected of including substances in the nanoform. Further, the Community Roling Action Plan (CoRAP) list should include all identified substances in the nanoform and evaluation should be carried out without delay.

4. Information on nanomaterials must be collected and disseminated

All EU citizens have the right to know which products contain nanomaterials as well as the right to know about their risks to health and environment and overall level of exposure. Given the uncertainties surrounding nanomaterials, the Commission must guarantee that members of the public are in a position to exercise their right to know and to make informed choices pending thorough risk assessments of nanomaterials on the market.

Therefore, a publicly accessible inventory of nanomaterials and consumer products containing nanomaterials must be established at European level. Moreover, specific nano-labelling or declaration requirements must be established for all nano-containing products (detergents, aerosols, sprays, paints, medical devices, etc.) in addition to those applicable to food, cosmetics and biocides which are required under existing obligations.

5. REACH enforcement activities should tackle nanomaterials

REACH’s fundamental principle of “no data, no market” should be thoroughly implemented. Therefore, nanomaterials that are on the market without a meaningful minimum set of data to allow the assessment of their hazards and risks should be denied market access through enforcement activities. In the meantime, we ask the EU Member States and manufacturers to use a precautionary approach in the assessment, production, use and disposal of nanomaterials

This comes on the heels of CIEL’s March 2014 news release announcing a new three-year joint project concerning nanomaterials and safety and responsible development,

Supported by the VELUX foundations, CIEL and ECOS (the European Citizen’s Organization for Standardization) are launching a three-year project aiming to ensure that risk assessment methodologies and risk management tools help guide regulators towards the adoption of a precaution-based regulatory framework for the responsible development of nanomaterials in the EU and beyond.

Together with our project partner the German Öko-Institut, CIEL and ECOS will participate in the work of the standardization organizations Comité Européen de Normalisation and International Standards Organization, and this work of the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development], especially related to health, environmental and safety aspects of nanomaterials and exposure and risk assessment. We will translate progress into understandable information and issue policy recommendations to guide regulators and support environmental NGOs in their campaigns for the safe and sustainable production and use of nanomaterials.

The VILLUM FOUNDATION and the VELUX FOUNDATION are non-profit foundations created by Villum Kann Rasmussen, the founder of the VELUX Group and other entities in the VKR Group, whose mission it is to bring daylight, fresh air and a better environment into people’s everyday lives.

Meanwhile in the US, an April 6, 2014 news item on Nanowerk announces a new research network, based at Arizona State University (ASU), devoted to studying health and environmental risks of nanomaterials,

Arizona State University researchers will lead a multi-university project to aid industry in understanding and predicting the potential health and environmental risks from nanomaterials.

Nanoparticles, which are approximately 1 to 100 nanometers in size, are used in an increasing number of consumer products to provide texture, resiliency and, in some cases, antibacterial protection.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a grant of $5 million over the next four years to support the LCnano Network as part of the Life Cycle of Nanomaterials project, which will focus on helping to ensure the safety of nanomaterials throughout their life cycles – from the manufacture to the use and disposal of the products that contain these engineered materials.

An April 1, 2014 ASU news release, which originated the news item, provides more details and includes information about project partners which I’m happy to note include nanoHUB and the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISENet) in addition to the other universities,

Paul Westerhoff is the LCnano Network director, as well as the associate dean of research for ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and a professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment.

The project will team engineers, chemists, toxicologists and social scientists from ASU, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Carnegie Mellon, Purdue, Yale, Oregon’s state universities, the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Engineered nanomaterials of silver, titanium, silica and carbon are among the most commonly used. They are dispersed in common liquids and food products, embedded in the polymers from which many products are made and attached to textiles, including clothing.

Nanomaterials provide clear benefits for many products, Westerhoff says, but there remains “a big knowledge gap” about how, or if, nanomaterials are released from consumer products into the environment as they move through their life cycles, eventually ending up in soils and water systems.

“We hope to help industry make sure that the kinds of products that engineered nanomaterials enable them to create are safe for the environment,” Westerhoff says.

“We will develop molecular-level fundamental theories to ensure the manufacturing processes for these products is safer,” he explains, “and provide databases of measurements of the properties and behavior of nanomaterials before, during and after their use in consumer products.”

Among the bigger questions the LCnano Network will investigate are whether nanomaterials can become toxic through exposure to other materials or the biological environs they come in contact with over the course of their life cycles, Westerhoff says.

The researchers will collaborate with industry – both large and small companies – and government laboratories to find ways of reducing such uncertainties.

Among the objectives is to provide a framework for product design and manufacturing that preserves the commercial value of the products using nanomaterials, but minimizes potentially adverse environmental and health hazards.

In pursuing that goal, the network team will also be developing technologies to better detect and predict potential nanomaterial impacts.

Beyond that, the LCnano Network also plans to increase awareness about efforts to protect public safety as engineered nanomaterials in products become more prevalent.

The grant will enable the project team to develop educational programs, including a museum exhibit about nanomaterials based on the LCnano Network project. The exhibit will be deployed through a partnership with the Arizona Science Center and researchers who have worked with the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network.

The team also plans to make information about its research progress available on the nanotechnology industry website Nanohub.org.

“We hope to use Nanohub both as an internal virtual networking tool for the research team, and as a portal to post the outcomes and products of our research for public access,” Westerhoff says.

The grant will also support the participation of graduate students in the Science Outside the Lab program, which educates students on how science and engineering research can help shape public policy.

Other ASU faculty members involved in the LCnano Network project are:

• Pierre Herckes, associate professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
• Kiril Hristovski, assistant professor, Department of Engineering, College of Technology and Innovation
• Thomas Seager, associate professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment
• David Guston, professor and director, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes
• Ira Bennett, assistant research professor, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes
• Jameson Wetmore, associate professor, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, and School of Human Evolution and Social Change

I hope to hear more about the LCnano Network as it progresses.

Finally, there was this Nov. 12, 2013 news item on Nanowerk about instituting  voluntary safety protocols for carbon nanotubes in Japan,

Technology Research Association for Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes (TASC)—a consortium of nine companies and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) — is developing voluntary safety management techniques for carbon nanotubes (CNTs) under the project (no. P10024) “Innovative carbon nanotubes composite materials project toward achieving a low-carbon society,” which is sponsored by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

Lynn Bergeson’s Nov. 15, 2013 posting on nanotech.lawbc.com provides a few more details abut the TASC/AIST carbon nanotube project (Note: A link has been removed),

Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) announced in October 2013 a voluntary guidance document on measuring airborne carbon nanotubes (CNT) in workplaces. … The guidance summarizes the available practical methods for measuring airborne CNTs:  (1) on-line aerosol measurement; (2) off-line quantitative analysis (e.g., thermal carbon analysis); and (3) sample collection for electron microscope observation. …

You can  download two protocol documents (Guide to measuring airborne carbon nanotubes in workplaces and/or The protocols of preparation, characterization and in vitro cell based assays for safety testing of carbon nanotubes), another has been published since Nov. 2013, from the AIST’s Developing voluntary safety management techniques for carbon nanotubes (CNTs): Protocol and Guide webpage., Both documents are also available in Japanese and you can link to the Japanese language version of the site from the webpage.

NanoCelluComp (nanocellulose composites, a European Union project) waves goodbye

As I noted in my Feb. 6, 2014 posting about NanoCelluComp and its appearance at the JEC 2014 Composites Show and Conferences in Paris (France), 11-13th March, 2014, the project is experiencing its sunset days.

The project’s (European Commission-funded project under the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme) final (6th) newsletter (which can be found here) has just been published and there are a few interesting items to be found.

They list each of their ‘work packages’ and then describe the progress,

Work Package 1
Extraction of nanocellulose from carrot.
Work Packages 2 & 3
Stabilization and modification of nanocellulose suspensions.
Work Package 4
Nanocellulose based materials.
Work Package 5
Integrated technology for making new materials.
Work Package 6
Assessment of new technology.

NanoCelluComp Work Programme Activities.
Work packages 1, 2 and 3 are complete; nonetheless, these methods have been further improved as we have learned more about the properties of the extracted nanocellulose and better ways of removing unwanted components of the vegetable waste.

Activities in work package 4 have provided larger-scale production (100’s of g) of fibres that have been incorporated into resins (work package 5). Production and processing aspects were further fine-tuned over the autumn and early winter to achieve the best performance characteristics in the final composites. Different methods have been used to produce composite materials and full mechanical testing of each has been performed. Finally, demonstrator products have been produced for the JEC Europe 2014 show in Paris (March 11-13).

In work package 6, full life-cycle assessment has been performed on the different production technologies and final demonstrator products.

I’m particularly intrigued by Work Package 1 and its reference to carrots, the first time I’ve heard of carrot-derived nanocellulose. I hope to hear more about these carrots some day. In the meantime, there is more information about vegetable waste and nanocellulose at the JEC conference where NanoCelluComp can be found at Exhibition Stand D83 or in my Feb. 6, 2014 posting.

The 6th newsletter also offers a list of recent papers and publications, their own and others related to nanocellulose. Included here is the list of publications from other agencies,

From cellulose to textile fibre and a ready product

Aalto University has developed a new process with global significance for working cellulose into a textile fibre.

The world’s first textile product made from Ioncell cellulose fibre as well as other results yielded by research programs were introduced at a seminar held by the Finnish Bioeconomy Cluster FIBIC Oy on November 20, 2013.

www.nanocellucomp.eu/from-cellulose-to-textile-fibre-and-a-ready-product

This Self-Cleaning Plate May Mean You’ll Never Have To Do The Dishes

Researchers at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm) in collaboration with Innventia, have designed a prototype dinner plate made from nanocellulose and coated with a super-hydrophobic material.

www.nanocellucomp.eu/latest-news/this-sel-cleaning-plate-may-mean-youll-never-have-to-do-the-dishes

New report – Biocomposites 350,000t production of wood and natural fibre composites in the European Union in 2012

This market report gives the first comprehensive and detailed picture of the use and amount of wood and natural fibre reinforced composites in the European bio-based economy.

www.nanocellucomp.eu/latest-news/new-report-biocomposites-350000t-production-of-wood-and-natural-fibre-composites-in-the-european-union-in-2012

It looks like some good work has been done and I applaud the group for reaching out to communicate. I wish the Canadian proponents would adopt the practice.

All the best to the NanoCelluComp team and may the efforts be ‘fruitful’.

 

 

Nano workshop with the International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists and ‘in-cosmetics’ on March 1, 2014

The International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC) is presenting a March 31, 2014 nanotechnology workshop prior to the ‘in-cosmetics exhibition’ due to be held April 1-2, 2014 in Hamburg in partnership with the in-cosmetics organizers.  From a Feb. 17, 2014 IFSCC news release,

The IFSCC has organised a Recent Perspectives in Nanotechnology workshop in association with in-cosmetics which will be held immediately before the show (1-3 April) on 31 March 2014 in Hamburg.

Moderated by IFSCC Vice President and President of the French Society Claudie Willemin, the workshop will provide an update on nanotechnology in Cosmetics. It will focus on the requirements of the EU regulation 1223/2009/WE, enacted by the European Commission to provide tools and methodologies to measure the particle size to fulfil the nanomaterial definition, the safety studies and evaluation methods.

Topics and speakers include:

Nanotechnology in Cosmetics – Current status in EU and Other Countries

Dr Florian Schellauf, Technical Regulatory Affairs – Cosmetics Europe

Characterisation Methods for Nanomaterials for Regulatory Purposes

Dr Hubert Rauscher, European Commission – Joint Research Centre – Nanobiosciences Unit

Nanomaterials’ Safety:  A Summary of the Latest Studies

Prof. Jürgen Lademann, Center of Experimental and Applied Cutaneous Physiology, Department of Dermatology, University of Medecin – La Charité – Berlin

Nanomaterial’s Evaluation Tests

Dr Robert Landsiedel, Product Safety – Experimental Toxicology and Ecology – BASF

Click here for full programme details and to register.

The focus is primarily on the European Union’s efforts according to the workshop programme webpage,

This IFSCC Workshop will provide an update on nanotechnology in Cosmetics. It will focus on the requirements of the EU regulation 1223/2009/WE, enacted by the European Commission to provide tools and methodologies to measure the particle size to fulfil the nanomaterial definition, the safety studies and evaluation methods.

Organised by the IFSCC, a federation dedicated to international cooperation in cosmetic science and technology, this workshop demonstrates its aims.

Moderator: Claudie Willemin

  • 14:00-14:30: Welcome and Introduction
    IFSCC – What does this Acronym mean?
    > Claudie Willemin, Vice President of  the International Federation of the Societies of Cosmetic Chemists and President of La Société Française de Cosmétologie – SFC
  • 14:30-15:15: Nanotechnology in Cosmetics – Current status in EU and Other Countries
    > Dr. Florian Schellauf, Technical Regulatory Affairs- Cosmetics EuropeThe legislator introduced two requirements into the EU Regulation 1223/2009 related to nanomaterials in cosmetic products.The first requirement is the obligation to inform the consumer when nanomaterials are used in cosmetic products (“nano labelling”). The second requirement requires notification to the European Commission of cosmetic products containing certain nanomaterials. These requirements are based on the definition of a nanomaterial provided in the Regulation.

    The requirements come into application from 2013 and discussions have moved from legislation to practical implementation.

    This presentation will provide an overview over the use of nanomaterials in cosmetics, issues related to the implementation of the legal requirements and the interpretation of the cosmetic nanodefinition in relation to the Commission Recommendation of 18 October 2011.

    Also in the international arena, there have been harmonization attempts specifically for the cosmetic sector through the ICCR process (International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation). ICCR defined a set of criteria for determining whether or not a material should be considered as a nanomaterial for regulatory purposes. The presentation will also provide an insight into discussions occurring around nanomaterials in cosmetics in selected countries outside of the EU.

  • 15:15-15:50: Characterisation Methods for Nanomaterials for Regulatory Purposes
    > Dr. Hubert Rauscher, European Commission -Joint Research Centre – Nanobiosciences UnitNanomaterials are addressed in the European Regulation on Cosmetic Products (EC)1223/2009 as well as in several other sectors of national and international legislation and in various guidelines. This requires clear terminology, such as a definition of the term “nanomaterial” and implementation provisions. Such a definition for regulatory purposes and its individual elements needs to be legally clear and unambiguous, and enforceable through agreed measurement techniques and procedures. The presentation highlights the technical and scientific requirements for the characterisation of nanomaterials that need to be met for this purpose and reviews currently available techniques. The contribution also offers considerations on the way forward towards the development of new measurement techniques, the combination of experimental methods and the need for validation studies for the characterisation of nanomaterials for regulatory purposes.
  • 15:50-16:15: Coffee Break
  • 16:15-16:50: Nanomaterials’ Safety:  A Summary of the Latest Studies
    > Prof. Jürgen Lademann, Center of Experimental and Applied Cutaneous Physiology, Department of Dermatology, University of Medecin – La Charité – BerlinFor more than 20 years both academic institutions and industrial enterprises have been researching into the development of strategies for drug delivery through the human skin by means of nanoparticles. However, a commercial product based on that concept is still lacking as, obviously, nanoparticles of ≥30 nm do not penetrate the human skin barrier. Whether this applies also to smaller particles is currently a topic of intense research.First indications that nanoparticles might not penetrate the skin barrier resulted from investigations of sunscreens that contained TiO2 particles of approximately 100 nm in diameter. At the end of a 14 day test period, volunteers who had applied the sunscreen three times each day were measured for TiO2 penetration using the tape stripping method. In addition, biopsies were taken and histological sections were analyzed. The results clearly showed that the TiO2 nanoparticles were located upon the skin surface and in some of the hair follicles. The penetration profile also revealed low TiO2 concentrations near the boundary to the living epidermis.  However, in follow-up investigations these TiO2 concentrations turned out to be located in the hair follicles.

    Interestingly, only some of the hair follicles contained TiO2 particles. In a subsequent study it could be shown that the nanoparticles penetrated into the hair follicles only if the latter display sebum production or hair growth. This means that hair follicles are usually closed by a cover that must be opened from inside out by mass flow to permit the topically applied nanoparticles penetrating into the hair follicles.  Particles of 500-800 nm in diameter were found to penetrate into the hair follicles most efficiently; either in vivo or – in the case of porcine ear model skin – if the hairs are moved by a massage. Investigating the hair surface structure, it was found that the thickness of the cuticula on the hair amounts to 600-800 nm. Due to resonance effects and if the hairs are moving, nanoparticles within this diameter range obviously penetrate into the hair follicles where they can be stored for a period exceeding 10 days. Thereafter, they escape with the sebum onto the skin surface again. A penetration of particles through the intact skin barrier could not be detected.

    The problem of particulate structures, particularly of those exceeding 100 nm, is that they do not penetrate the intact skin barrier on the intercellular pathway. They remain on the skin surface and are removed by washing, textile contact and desquamation, so that scarcely any nanoparticles are detectable after 24 h. However, once the particles have been transported into the hair follicles part of them are stored there for more than 10 days and are then re-transferred to the skin surface with the sebum. In various papers nanoparticles were reported to pass the skin barrier. This is always correct if the skin barrier is disturbed. Such disturbance could have been caused by disease or mechanical manipulation, e.g., taking of biopsies, tape stripping or cyanoacrylate stripping. In such cases, nanoparticles could also be detected in the living skin. So far, no evidence has been provided to suggest that nanoparticles are capable of penetrating the intact skin. Therefore, a collaborative project was recently launched by the German Research Association (DFG) in which the excellent penetration properties of particles >100 mm shall be used to transport drugs, which would normally not penetrate into the hair follicles, efficiently to the target structures in the hair follicles where they can be released by an external trigger system.

  • 16:50-17:30: Nanomaterial’s Evaluation Tests
    > Dr. Robert Landsiedel, Product Safety – Experimental Toxicology and Ecology – BASFWarranting the safety of nanotechnological products is seen as a crucial element in ensuring that the benefits of the new technology can be fully exploited. One prominent trait of NM is the fact that, during the life-time of a given NM, humans can be exposed to different forms of the material, e.g. due to agglomeration or aggregation, corona formation or interaction with surrounding organic material, or dissolution. In order to remove the need to test each form of nanomaterial in all its uses with a pre-defined, fixed list of methods, a concern-driven approach is proposed. Such approaches should start out by determining concerns, i.e. specific information needs for a given NM based on realistic exposure scenarios. Recognized concerns can be addressed in a set of tiers using standardized protocols for NM preparation and testing. Tier 1 includes determining physico-chemical properties, non-testing (e.g. structure activity relationships) and evaluating existing data. In tier 2, a limited set of in vitro and in vivo tests are performed that can either indicate that the risk of the specific concern is sufficiently known or indicate the need for further testing, including details for such testing. By effectively exploiting all available information, IATA allow accelerating the risk assessment process and reducing testing costs and animal use (in line with the 3Rs principle implemented in EU Directive 2010/63/EU). Combining material properties, exposure, biokinetics and hazard data, information gained with IATA can be used to recognize groups of NM based upon similar modes-of-action. Grouping of substances in return should form an integral part of the IATA themselves.
  • 17:30-18:00: Q&A and Conclusion

You can go here to register for this workshop. If you are attending the exhibition only, you can register for free until March 31, 2014 but if you want to attend the nano workshop and others, an Early Bird rate starting at €280 +VAT is available until Feb. 28, 2014.

For anyone who doesn’t fully grasp what the ‘in-cosmetics’ exhibition is all about, here’s a video,