September 30, 2011 by Rhiannon Smith

Pete and I attended the 6th International Meeting on the Environmental Effects of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials in London last week. The meeting was organised by the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) and the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). Plenary presentations were made across three days, with the first day focussing on chemistry, the second day on ecotoxicology and the third day on ecotoxicology and regulation. We were particularly interested in the presentations discussing registration and regulation of nanomaterials.

The meeting was well attended, with delegates mainly from academia, although government, military, industry and non-government organisations were also represented. We presented a poster: “Regulating nanomaterials to protect human health and the environment: progress and prospects” which you can download by clicking on the link.

Whilst many of the presentations discussed preliminary findings from on-going research, there appeared to be a general consensus throughout the posters and presentations that nanoparticular forms of substances are often no more toxic than their “bulk” or, in the case of metals, ionic, forms; this was particularly apparent for studies investigating the effects of nanosilver. Approximately 30% of the posters and plenary presentations related to nanosilver. Many of the presentations also discussed the impact of coatings and functionalisation on the fate and interactions of nanomaterials. As much of the research published to date on nanomaterials has focussed on “naked” (uncoated) forms of nanomaterials, rather than the functionalised forms of nanomaterials that are used predominatly by industry, the outcome of this ongoing research is likely to be increasingly relevant to the robust environmental risk assessment of nanomaterials.