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World Health Organization

WHO Nanotechnology and Human Health

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Nanomaterials and products based on nanotechnological applications are being commercialised and used at an increasing pace. In the Parma Declaration on Environment and Health, the health implications of nanotechnology and nanoparticles are listed among the key environment and health challenges that ministers are committed to act on. Along with a call for increased research on the use of nanoparticles in products and nanomaterials, the ministers pledged to develop and use improved health risk and benefit assessment methods. Research into the environmental, health and safety aspects of nanomaterials is extensive and growing rapidly. The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe has been reviewing recent and current research, with a view to clarifying the connections between nanotechnology and health. Findings from this exercise suggest that a rigorous risk assessment is not feasible and that a pragmatic model of “risk governance” seems desirable.

In order to explore how the Regional Office can contribute to progressing risk governance of nanotechnologies, a two-day workshop was held in December 2012. Participants with a wide range of expertise were invited to present their work with the purpose of providing input to WHO, including Dr Steve Hankin and Dr Craig Poland from IOM/SAFENANO.

A Report of the WHO Expert Meeting has been published, covering the four key areas of the workshop:

  1. exposure assessment of nanomaterials;
  2. nanotoxicology;
  3. risk assessment, and;
  4. regulation and risk governance.

Abstracts of the presentations made by participants are included in an annex to the report.

Click here to download a copy of the WHO Expert Meeting Report.

Did you know?

100 nm is the size below which the EU recommendation of the definition of nanomaterials applies.