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VeilleNanos - Life cycle of nanomaterials and nano-enhanced products

Life cycle of nanomaterials and nano-enhanced products

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Consider the entire life cycle of nanomaterials and nano enhanced products

By the Avicenn team – Last updated June 2022

In order to not to repeat the mistakes of the past, it is necessary that industrialists, risk assessment and management authorities and researchers consider the entire life cycle of nanomaterials: from initial production, usage or consumption to destruction or recycling.

A comprehensive approach – social life cycle assessment (SLCA) – is being promoted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)1Guidelines for Social Life Cycle Assessment, UNEP, 2009. It can be applied to nanomaterials and must be conducted prospectively, prior to commercialization – not in “firefighting mode” after health or environmental problems have arisen. This is a broader “benefit-risk” analysis than that commonly proposed by proponents of the traditional (and limited) risk assessment approach. In particular, it considers the following questions: “what benefits/risks, for whom, where, when?

At present, scientists have very limited knowledge of the types of nanomaterials that are incorporated into products currently on the market, and a fortiori of any degradation residues of nanomaterials released throughout the “life cycle” of these products; they also know little about their mobility and transformations in the environment or in the human body: many parameters come into play, such as the degree of acidity or salinity of the water for example2On the influence of acidity on the physicochemical parameters of nanomaterials, see for example:
Fate of iron nanoparticles in the environment. Colloidal stability, chemical reactivity and impacts on plants Edwige Demangeat’s thesis, Geosciences Rennes UMR 6118, 2018
Natural acids in soil could protect rice from toxic nanoparticles, Science News, April 2015

In May 2019, Science for Environment Policy reports on the progress of a life cycle assessment method tailored to emerging technologies: the Lifecycle Screening of Emerging Technologies (LiSET). Will it be usable and used before the marketing of certain “nanos”? The question needs to be investigated.

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Any questions or comments? This information sheet compiled by AVICENN is intended to be completed and updated. Please feel free to contribute.

Upcoming Nano Agenda

Global Webinar on Nanotechnology and Nanoscience (Online)
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  • 3rd edition of the Global Webinar on Nanotechnology and Nanoscience
  • February 27 to 28, 2024
  • Organizers: Global Scientific Guild
  • Main theme: Insights and Innovations in Nanotechnology and Nano Science: Progressing to the future

Managing the risks associated with nanomaterials (CEA, Grenoble)
  • Awareness-raising aimed at personnel in contact with nanomaterials during research, formulation, production, maintenance, cleaning, upkeep, etc., as well as safety coordinators or engineers, facility managers, heads of laboratories where nanoparticles are handled.
  • Organizers: INSTN Grenoble (CEA)
  • On the agenda: potential impact on health; metrology and protection; control of potential risks associated with nanomaterials; consideration of societal aspects.
  • Website: https: //
Nanoparticles in everyday products (ATC, Paris)
  • This module is part of the training program “Interactions between toxic chemicals and the human organism”, open to anyone with a basic scientific education (bachelor’s degree or professional experience).
  • Organizers: Association Toxicologie Chimie(ATC)
  • Speaker : Nicole PROUST, Research Engineer, CNRS Honorary Research Director, Specialist in Nanotechnologies, Arsenic, Electromagnetic Waves, Palaiseau, France
  • Website:

This sheet was originally created in November 2014

Notes and references

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