Metka Filipic

Metka Filipic

Benefits and potential environmental and human health risks related to the use of nanotechnologies


Rapidly evolving nanotechnologies enable development, production and use of nanomaterials that offer exciting new opportunities in technology and medicine. Numerous benefits are expected such as reducing energy consumption and environmental pollution, treatment and prevention of diseases, improved food quality etc.  However, the increasing use of nanomaterials in society also raises concerns as to their possible adverse effects on the environment and human health.

Nanomaterials should be considered as new materials because when we shrink a material from bulk form to nano-size the fundamental physicochemical properties of a material change. These new properties are exploited for different applications, which bulk form of the material does not allow, however at the same time also the interactions of nanomaterial with biosystems and toxicological consequence significantly vary from those of the bulk counterpart. While it is widely accepted that the toxicity of the bulk material mainly depends on chemical composition, dose and exposure route, much more factors are responsible for the toxicity of nanomaterials (e.g. size, specific surface area, nanostructure, surface chemistry, surface protein adsorption, etc.), which are still not understood completely. 

Risk is the product of hazard and exposure; therefore risk assessment should consider toxicological hazard, probability of exposure as well as the environmental fate. While in the recent years there has been an increasing emphasis placed on hazard assessment of nanomaterials, the information on the extent of human or environmental exposure to engineered nanomaterials is extremely limited. To identify real exposure, during the manufacturing and use, new methods need to be developed for the detection and determination of the characteristics of nanoparticles in different environmental matrices.

Due to numerous uncertainties and opened questions it is currently impossible to reliably assess the risks of different applications of nanotechnologies, which is in a great deal the consequence of the fact that the advances in nanotoxicology have generally lagged behind the advances in nanotechnology. This may be a threat for the future of certain nanotechnologies. The scepticism of the society regarding the safety of certain uses of nanotecnologies (i.e. in food industry, cosmetics, environmental technologies) is increasing. Thus the major challenge for industry, scientists and governmental bodies is to step together, promote the toxicological research and establish appropriate regulations.


to the European Conference on Materials and Technologies for Sustainable Growth website.

ECo MaTech will be held in Bled (Slovenia) from 19th to 21st of September 2013.

Eco MaTech is the third edition of a conference that started in 2009. The aim of ECo MaTech is to gather representatives of academic and R&D institutions, industry, governmental agencies and civil society to:

- present their work, ideas and products, 
- increase fruitful exhanges between all the actors involved in sustainable growth technologies, 
- increase the networking with sustainable growth professionals, 
- establish a general discussion platform on sustainable growth.


The conference excursion will take you to the Alpine lake Bohinj ( and waterfall Savica (
A farewell party will follow the lake trip by a boat. Comfortable shoes are recommended.

Only cash is exepted for on-site payment.

The poster panels are 1m wide and 2m high. The standrad A0 size posters are recommended (841mm:1189mm).