Please be aware that this is a machine translation from French to English. AVICENN is not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate translations but welcomes suggestions for reformulation.

WatchNanos - ¿Nanos?

The nanos, kezako?

The world of the infinitely small

"Nano" comes from the Greek "nannos" and means "dwarf": the nanometric scale is that of the infinitely small !

It thus takes a million nanometers to arrive at a millimeter, or a billion nanometers to arrive at a meter:

1 nanometer (nm) = 10-9 meter = 0,000m = 1 billionth of a meter 

Invisible to the naked eye, nano-sized objects are somewhat larger than atoms or the size of viruses.

Specific properties

At this scale, the materials deploy "extraordinary" properties (in the true sense of the term) compared to "classic" or conventional materials, of micro- or macroscopic size.

“More resistant”, “more conductive”, “lighter”, “antibacterial” or “anti-UV”, “shinier”, “more waterproof”, etc. nanomaterials are adorned with a thousand virtues.

But if these miraculous properties can be observed in the laboratory, they can sometimes be missing in the real conditions of use of the products. Beware of false promises !

Many sectors of use

Nanomaterials are used in many sectors: food, cosmetics, textiles, packaging, paints and varnishes, cements and concretes, electronics, aeronautics, automotive, etc.

According to promoters of nanotechnology, nanomaterials are even present in ALL sectors.

What risks?

Whoever says “new properties” also potentially says “new risks”. Hence the need for effective vigilance over the latter.

Problem: the resources dedicated to monitoring and preventing these risks are still very low. That is why AVICENN keep an eye out!


Our comic

Check out our comic:


Our book

Discover our book Nanomaterials and risks to health and the environment – ​​Let's be vigilant!, published by Editions Yves Michel in early 2016.

Nanos, nanomaterials, nanoparticles, nano-objects?

For the sake of readability, we use on this site the term “nanos” in the sense of the term “nanomaterial” as defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) :  “a material that has at least one external dimension in the nanoscale or that has an internal or surface structure in the nanoscale” (the nanometric scale being presented as comprised “approximately” between 1 and 100 nm).

This definition is a scientific definition – not a regulatory one.

→ For questions relating to legal obligations relating to the labeling or authorization of certain nanomaterials, these will be the definitions of the regulations and following the best practices (food, cosmetics, biocides, r-nano) which are obviously considered.

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