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Natural and anthropogenic

What kind of nano-objects are we talking about?

It is necessary to distinguish natural and "anthropogenic" (related to human activities) nano-objects. Either they are unintentional (combustion, abrasion, processes emitting dust,…) or manufactured. Recent toxicology studies show that some synthesized nano-objects will likely reveal toxic for some forms or chemical compositions. So we must take appropriate precaution measures.

Size effect

The size of these particles could give them exceptional penetration capacities through living cells membranes and consequently, the possibility of release in the human body.


Illustration of urban pollution.

Incident particles produced by combustion

If urban pollution is a problem that is in principle independent of the development of nanomaterials, according to the WHO it causes 80 000 deaths in Europe every year. Again, according to the WHO, studied pollutants (ozone, nitrogen oxides or sulphur) are not sufficient to explain that mortality. The small and very small particles released particularly by diesels could play a role: a hypothesis to be tested!