Environmental, health and safety (EHS) aspects of cellulose nanomaterials (CNM)

Heli Kangas

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    Cellulose nanomaterials (CNMs) have many unique properties, such as high specific surface area and aspect ratio, making them potential for many applications in several industrial sectors, ranging from papermaking and packaging to food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. As materials originating from cellulose, the most abundant organic polymer on earth, CNMs can also be considered natural and renewable as well as biodegradable and biocompatible. However, it must be remembered that the nano-specific properties of CNMs, which make them excellent materials for improving the performance of diverse applications, might also have implications on their safety. Generally, the interactions of nanomaterials with living organism and the environment are not fully understood. Despite the number of publications on CNMs has reached thousands, less attention has been paid to the research on their environmental, health and safety (EHS) aspects. The results published so far on the safety of cellulose nanomaterials have shown that they are not generally toxic to humans or to the environment. However, the materials are not inert either and may cause inflammatory effects when inhaled. In addition, indications of dose-dependent toxicity and inflammatory effects have been found. The material and technology development around CNMs has been fast, leaving the legislation and standardization activities lacking behind. There are currently no specific regulations for nanomaterials, and thus their safety should be assessed as that of the corresponding bulk materials, i.e. the existing chemicals legislation and regulations based on its intended use. In addition, there are several European, national and international initiatives for developing and implementing nanomaterial-specific regulations, which can give guidance for the safe manufacturing and use of CNMs. In this presentation, the current status of EHS aspects on CNMs will be reviewed, focusing on the published literature in the field, as well as on the progress in legislation. In addition, a risk assessment protocol recommended for manufactured nanomaterials published by the European Commission will be outlined.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2018
    MoE publication typeNot Eligible
    EventBiomaterials for Tomorrow, B4T 2018: B4T 2018 - Kochi Marriott Hotel, Kochi, Kerala, India
    Duration: 7 Jan 20189 Jan 2018


    WorkshopBiomaterials for Tomorrow, B4T 2018
    CityKochi, Kerala
    OtherBiomaterials For Tomorrow (B4T) is a workshop to share knowledge on the strategies for the utilization of bioresources for developing future materials, devices and products.


    • cellulose nanofibrils
    • safety assessment


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