Estimating the influence of novel technologies and newly developed materials on our environment is always a challenge. That is also true for nanotechnology, which is an umbrella term for various applications and materials, whose only commonality is its small size. What are nanomaterials? Why are they so interesting and what are they used for? Do engineered nanomaterials pose a hazard for humans and the environment?
A team of scientists from the DaNa2.0 project (Data and knowledge on nanomaterials - treatment of socially relevant scientific facts) ask these and many more exciting questions and publish the answers on the internet platform www.nanoobjects.info. Scientists from various disciplines work together on presenting understandable information on nanomaterials tailored for different audiences. The aim of DaNa2.0 project is to present a broad overview on nanoproducts and nanomaterials, as well as a summary of the current knowledge in the field of nano - safety research.
At present comprehensive data on 25 engineered nanomaterials have been collected, including material properties, as well as potential effects on humans and the environment. Nanomaterials were chosen according to their use in real-world applications and products. As nanomaterials are used in many applications, their release into the environment, distribution in various environmental compartments and thus the contact with living organisms is inevitable, leading to concerns about potential hazards of nanomaterials towards environmental organisms.Information on environmental exposure, behavior in the environment and the impact on environmental organisms are only available for 23 of the nanomaterials.
Within the last 10 years, numerous studies have been performed with different materials and in different terrestrial and aquatic organisms. Since it is often difficult for non - experts to evaluate the quality of a study and classify the results described, the data and contents of a study are carefully checked for their quality and validity against established criteria before publication on the DaNa2.0 website. For consumers, usually a specific product (e.g. sunscreen, paint) rather than a specific material is in the focus of a search; hence, the website offers an application-based, fast access to the content of the knowledge base. In addition, the website offers more information on current research projects in the field of nanomaterial security research. It is also possible to ask specific questions to the project team, and news and relevant links about the topic of nanotechnology are provided.