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The “safer by design” approach

The “safer by design” approach aims to minimize  the nanomaterial exposure or ecotoxicity from the design of the product, considering the entire life cycle. It is presented as a “nanorisk assessment alternative provided until now. This approach consists of optimizing the ratio hazard/advantage on all the nanomaterial life cycle from the manufacture to the end of life. It is necessary to know the characteristics which have a direct influence on the nanomaterial toxicity and on the biodistribution. The modification of the size, the structure or the surface can be important parameters tolimit the risks. Based on currents scientific knowledge on the evolution of nanomaterials during the life cycle, it's not possible to ensure that this approach may constitute an absolute guarantee against nanomaterial risks.

The risks to human health and the environment depend on the toxicity and the exposure. It’s possible to limit the risks by acting from the design of the product on:

  • the nanoparticles: realize a coating to increase the size without losing any properties, improve the desired properties by playing  with the matrix, insert nanoparticles on bigger particles to avoid a release,…
  • the uses: restrict the use of a product to specific scenarios in such a way as to reduce the potential release,
  • the matrix: improve the organic matrix resistance thanks to the polymer properties, the binder to obtain a better affinity between the matrix and the particles.

Several European projects such as SUN (“Sustainable Nanotechnologies”), NANoREGII (“Developmentand implementation of Grouping and Safe-by-Design approaches within regulatory frameworks”) or the SERENADE labex (“Safe(r) ecodesign research and education applied to nanomaterial development”) care about this approach.

Toward new generation of nanomaterials [https://serenade.cerege.fr].