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SUN: Paving Sustainable Nanoinnovation
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 3 , 1 , 7 , 8 , 9 , * 1 , 10 , 11
1  Dept. Environmental sciences, Informatics and Statistics - Ca' Foscari University Venice, Italy
2  The Danish NanoSafety Centre, National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Denmark
3  School of Life Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK
4  Department of Bioscience - Terrestrial Ecology, Aarhus University, Denmark.
5  EMPA: Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Technology and Society Laboratory, Switzerland
6  Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramic Materials, National Research Institute, Faenza, Italy
7  BASF Aktiengesellschaft, Ludwigshafen, Germany
8  Nanomanufacturing Institute, University of Leeds, School of Process, Environmental & Materials Engineering, Leeds, UK
9  University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
10  European Research Services GmbH, Münster, Germany.
11  The REACH Centre Limited, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK.

Published: 31 October 2014 by MDPI in The 4th World Sustainability Forum session Sustainable Engineering and Science
Abstract: Our understanding of the environmental and health risks from nanotechnologies is still limited, which may result in stagnation of nanoinnovation. This emphasizes the need for an integrative assessment and adaptive management of the long-term risks from manufactured nanomaterials (MN) along the entire supply chains of nano-enabled products towards developing more sustainable nanotechnologies. Sustainable nanotechnology is being touted as a holistic and pragmatic concept that can guide incremental nanotechnology development amidst significant data gaps and uncertainty. The new European SUN (Sustainable Nanotechnologies) project is based on the hypothesis that the current knowledge on environmental and health risks from MN, whilst limited, can nevertheless guide more sustainable nanomanufacturing. SUN applies an integrated approach that estimates risks along the complete lifecycles of nano-enabled products. It aims to give clear answers to questions from regulatory authorities, and open new possibilities for innovators to design greener nanotechnologies. This will be achieved through development and application of new methods and tools for prediction of long-term exposure, effects and risks for humans and ecosystems (services), practices for risk prevention and management and tools to streamline effective decision making about safer products and processes. In order to achieve this, SUN will combine Risk Assessment and Lifecycle Assessment to develop a user-friendly software-based Decision Support System (DSS) for practical use by industries and regulators. The industrial partners in SUN will validate the DSS against real case studies in terms of risk/benefit and insurance costs. This validation will culminate in guidelines for safe nanoscale product and process design.
Keywords: Nanotechnology; sustainability; risk assessment; life cycle assessment; decision analysis; safe by design
Comments on this paper
David Lepoire
Thanks, How will this be integrated?
Thanks for this very nice paper outlining a very important process to balance the risks and benefits of

I had looked into the U.S. activities a few years ago and saw the leadership role that
Barbara Karn (then U.S. EPA, now R&D at the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies:
I remember at that time Guenter Oberdoerster was pioneering some research


I have a question.  How do you see this integrated into the EU’s precautionary principle framework?
Elena Semenzin
Thank you Dave for posting your comment.

To answer your question: we recently the discussed the precautionary principle during a 
stakeholders' workshop organized by the SUN project and our view is that the interpretation of
precautionary principle in the EU is shifting from a blanket moratorium on technologies that can
potentially cause harm to a consideration of trade-offs between risks, impacts, benefits and costs.
SUNDS has the following features that can be used by industry and regulators to implement this

new notion of the precautionary principle:
a) SUNDS provides tools for evaluation of ecological and human health risks and environmental
impacts with explicit consideration of data quality and uncertainty
b) These analyses can be linked to risk mitigation measures (e.g. occupational and engineering
risk control measures, molecular and process Safety by Design and waste management practices)

that will be ranked  by their efficiency and cost , and
c) Evaluation of environmental, economic and societal benefits to balance against the risks and
costs of product development.
The consideration of these factors during product development stage is likely to lead to
nanoproducts that are safer and have lower environmental impact.

Kind regards,