Nanotechnology: Small is Different

Nanomaterials are classes of materials which have one or more physical dimensions on the nanoscale. These materials are incredibly small in size and are measured in nanometres — one nanometre is one billionth of a metre. While nanomaterials present exciting new opportunities, they also create uncertainty due to their small size and altered properties. As such, in 2007 Health Canada asked the Council of Canadian Academies to assess the state of knowledge regarding the risks of nanomaterials and whether these risks might have an effect on the regulations which support research, risk assessment, and surveillance.

The Expert Panel on Nanotechnology found that the creation of a new regulatory mechanism to address the unique challenges presented by nanotechnology is unnecessary. They did suggest that existing regulatory mechanisms can and should be strengthened. As well, the panel believes that standardized approaches for the proper handling of nanomaterials should be developed to ensure worker safety, and effective surveillance of nanomaterials’ effects on consumers, workers and the environment should be carried out.

Assessment question

What is known about the risks that nanomaterials may pose to human health and the environment?


Report and related publications


Expert Panel membership

The Expert Panel on Nanotechnology convened in summer 2007 and was chaired by Dr. Pekka Sinervo, FRSC, Former Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science ay the University of Toronto.
For a complete list of panel members visit the Expert Panel on Nanotechnology Membership page.

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