Burgos, August 2021. A worldwide consortium is working on the implementation of DIAGONAL (acronym of Development and scaled Implementation of safe by design tools and guidelines for multicomponent nanomaterials and High Aspect Ratio Nanoparticles), a new Horizon 2020 research and innovation project that kicked off in May and which aims to bring new methodologies to guarantee long-term nanosafety.
The consortium is formed by 21 partners from 14 different countries that will work for 42 months to bring Safe by Design knowledge and tools to a development stage which can be implemented in the multicomponent nanomaterials and High Aspect Ratio Nanoparticles related industries, relying on experimental (in-vitro) and modelling (in-silico) research, to study specific hazard and exposure properties, with emphasis in the interactions between nanomaterials constituents, with other particles and the environment, as well as their release rate and fate.
The project relies on experimental and modelling research to understand and ultimately predict the interactions among the nanomaterial components, their transformation products, and between the nanomaterials and the environment, promoting a better understanding of potential adverse effects on human health, and biota.
DIAGONAL will contribute to build a trusted environment for industries, especially SMEs, to fulfil REACH requirements, helping to increase the safety of nano-enabled products along their life cycle, while encouraging more industries to start using nanomaterials at reduced business-related risks.
Nanotechnology as driver for sustainable design
Nanotechnology is conceived as a Key Enabling Technology (KET), becoming an increasingly relevant sector providing functional materials to many industrial sectors such as automotive, health, packaging, textiles, construction, etc. Currently, the global size of the sector is comparable to that of biotechnology, while the expected growth in the coming years is remarkably higher. In this context, Europe aims to play a market leader position, increasing its competitiveness in all sectors where nanotechnology may have a strong added value. Nevertheless, the risks to health and environment posed by the characteristics of nanomaterial enabled products are a significant barrier for their commercialisation and hinders the societal perception of the benefit of nanotechnologies. As these new materials go through their life-cycle – from development, to manufacture, to consumer usage, to final disposal – different human groups (workers, bystanders, users), environmental compartments (air, soil, sediment, water), and species (e.g. worm, fish or human through secondary exposure) will be exposed to them. Identifying and controlling the hazards associated with nanomaterials is required to ensure the safety of the general public, workers and the environment in parallel to exploiting the technological benefits. For this reason, authorities have adopted a precautionary approach where risk assessment and management (under the nanosafety umbrella concept) have taken the lead to provide the industry and stakeholders, with adequate tools and strategies to guarantee high safety levels along the nanomaterials life cycle. Safety considerations have become so important to support nanotechnology commercialisation that nanosafety is considered by many experts as a market itself.
Coordinated by UBU ICCRAM, DIAGONAL is formed by CNRS, ITENE, Wagenigen University, FORTH, ISQ, NOvamechanics, QSAR, BNN, RINA, LIST, Brimatech, Izes, Neovili, Vireo, Phornano, Iris, Monolithos, Cnano, Ocsial, DTI and Graphene.
The project has received €6.3 million funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No 953152.
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