Health Protection Agency Sets Up New Research Centre

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:02 pm    Post subject: Health Protection Agency Sets Up New Research Centre Reply with quote

Health Protection Agency Sets Up New National Nanotoxicology Research Centre

The Health Protection Agency has set up a new centre to study the possible health effects of human exposure to nanoparticles. The National Nanotoxicology Research Centre (NNRC) is being developed at the Agency’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards (CRCE) at Chilton in Oxfordshire. The Agency is collaborating with universities and the Medical Research Council's (MRC) Toxicology Unit to develop the centre and its research programme.

The Agency's Chairman Sir William Stewart said: “The application of nanotechnology is an exciting development with many potential benefits. However, it is very new technology and some element of precaution is required. More research should be carried out into any possible health effects from the use of nanoparticles, and that is the primary task of the new centre.”

The Agency will be collaborating with the Universities of Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Imperial College and King’s College London and the MRC Toxicology Unit in Leicester.

Nanotechnology uses materials of dimensions measured in nanometers (1 x 10-9 metres or 0.000001 millimetres). Such materials can have unusual physicochemical properties which make them useful in applications including medicine, electronics, optical-electronic systems and imaging. They are also used in cosmetic and food products.

Knowledge of the possible interactions between nanomaterials and the body is developing rapidly. NNRC will focus, initially, on the behaviour of nanomaterials that enter the body via the lung and skin. The transportation of nanomaterials in the body will be studied and special emphasis will be placed on investigating the bio-kinetics of nanoparticles. This will involve studies of their entry into the body, their distribution within and their removal from the body.

* The Agency is adapting its aerosol inhalation facility at CRCE Chilton to allow a programme of experimental work on nanomaterials. Initially the Agency will be spending over £300,000 to refurbish and re-equip the existing facility.
* Experiments designed to examine the biological pathways taken by nanomaterials within the body will be conducted. Work will begin in 2009 after development of state of the art methods for producing aerosols of nanomaterials and for measuring their properties such as size distribution and concentration in air.
* NNRC will build on expertise within CRCE's Radiation Protection Division and Chemical Hazards and Poisons Division.

Source: Health Protection Agency
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