One downside to our focus on the safety of nanomaterials is that it can cause us to lose focus on the potential upsides of nanotechnology in the environmental, health and safety arena.  CORDIS is reporting on a study funded by the European Parliament’s Scientific Technology Options Assessment ("STOA") committee which looked into whether nanomaterials could serve as substitutes for hazardous materials.

In particular, the study focused on two areas where nanotechnology is already making inroads —  coatings and catalysts:

Two areas where nanotechnology is already making inroads as a substitute for hazardous chemicals are coatings and catalysts. Coatings can create anti-adhesive surfaces which resist things sticking to them, such as dirt, or have biocidal properties to prevent living organisms from sticking to them.

Nanoparticles are also widely used in catalysts, although the authors point out that research in this field was already on the nanoscale, and so it is not clear to what extent future developments could be attributed to nanotechnologies.