BMBF-Project INOS - evaluation of health risks of nanoparticles - a contribution to a sustainable development of nanotechnology
Nanoparticles, which are much smaller than human cells, are being used already in many products: cosmetics, paints or ires. These tiny particles are even a selling point for car-care products. So far, little research has been done to evaluate their impact on the environment and humans. However, experience with other emerging technologies has shown that they are only accepted by society if possible health effects are analysed and published early on. INOS, the 'Identification and Assessment of the Effects of Engineered Nanoparticles on Human and Environmental Health' research project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), now aims to shed light on these issues. The project involving five research partners aims to explore how ceramic and metallic nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes affect cells without performing tests on animals. The synthetic nanoparticles investigated are manufactured by project partners or already in use for engineering purposes. These nanoparticles are sheathed in oxide or organic films. The films are formed in practice during processing or are applied specifically to modify properties. These protective coatings can however influence how materials interact with water, cell culture media and cells. The nanoparticles are investigated - with and without protective sheaths, individually and as agglomerates - in cell cultures. This approach allows us to find out how the particles interact with cells of the skin, the lungs, intestine or nervous system. Do they cause DNA damage or have an effect on general cell functions and the immune system? The project aims to answer these questions. The findings will be made available to the public in a database. The project partners also intend to create an accredited laboratory, which will act as a point of contact for small and mid-sized enterprises in particular and carry out further analysis of nanoparticles.