Share article:

    Study reveals nanomaterials in paints to be non-toxic

    © Belga
    So as to study the toxicity of these particles, several avenues have been pursued, including so-called “breathable volatile chemicals” in paints, and the risk that they may pose for the health of workers.
    © Belga

    Initial findings from an international study, in which researchers from the University of Namur have participated, show that nanomaterials would not be toxic. Through the project NanoGeCo, researchers from the University of Namur collaborating with the University of Graz (Austria), the Institute of Research Fraunhofer IPA (Germany) and the Belgian company Dothée, which specialises in industrial paints, are looking into the toxicity of nanomaterials in such paints.

    Amazingly there are nanomaterials in more than 500 consumer goods, including sun creams, cars, chocolate sweets and industrial paints. Made of particles that are no larger than cells, their purpose is to add value to products in terms of physico-chemical properties. With industrial paints, adding nanomaterials provides the substance with innovative characteristics such as, for example, self-cleaning properties.

    Julie Laloy, who is coordinating the project says, “Tests for toxicity are not compulsory, and it is not even a requirement to indicate whether or not a product contains nanomaterials. A lack of transparency encourages the consumer to be afraid this technology.”

    Nevertheless, for several years, the Walloon region has explored the question of nanomaterial safety, and Belgium is one of the few countries which wants the issue covered by legislation.

    To this end, the Namur Nanosafety Center (the pluridisciplinary research centre of UNamur) has been focusing upon the question since 2015 through a study financed by SPW Research (an environmental organisation) and the European programme SINN ERA-NET (which promotes nanoscience and nanotechnology).

    So as to study the toxicity of these particles, several avenues have been pursued, including so-called “breathable volatile chemicals” in paints, and the risk that they may pose for the health of workers. A further avenue is examining solutions through considering the appropriate means of protection to put in place. Julie Laloy states, “We can say with certainty that the initial study findings do not show these nanomaterials to be toxic.” Definitive study results will be known at the end of March.

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times