The Safe(r)-by-design guidelines for the nanotechnology industry, co-authored by NIA staff Dr Blanca Suarez Merino and Dr Sean Kelly as part of the NanoReg2 project, are now available online.


Expectations for safer and sustainable chemicals and products are growing to comply with the United Nations and European strategies for sustainability. The application of Safe(r) by Design (SbD) in nanotechnology implies an iterative process where functionality, human health and safety, environmental and economic impact and cost are assessed and balanced as early as possible in the innovation process and updated at each step. The EU Horizon 2020 NanoReg2 project was the first European project to implement SbD in six companies handling and/or manufacturing nanomaterials (NMs) and nano-enabled products (NEP).

The results from this experience have been used to develop guidelines on the practical application of SbD. The SbD approach foresees the identification, estimation, and reduction of human and environmental risks as early as possible in the development of a NM or NEP, and it is based on three pillars: (i) safer NMs and NEP; (ii) safer use and end of life; and (iii) safer industrial production. The guidelines include a set of information and tools that will help deciding at each step of the innovation process whether to continue, apply SbD measures or carry out further tests to reduce uncertainty. The document does not intend to be a prescriptive protocol where all suggested steps have to be followed to achieve a SbD NM/NEP or process. Rather, it is designed to identify risks at an early state, and the information to be considered in order to identify those risks, so that each company can adapt the approach to its specific needs and circumstances.

To learn more about the NanoReg2 project, please visit this page.