The main aim of the Nano-SafePACK project is to develop a best practices guide to allow the safe handling and use of nano-materials in packaging industries, considering integrated strategies to control the exposure to nano-particles (NP) in industrial settings, and provide the SMEs with scientific data to minimize and control the NP release and migration from the polymer nano-composites placed on the market.
To achieve this aim, a complete hazard and exposure assessment will be conducted to obtain new scientific data about the safety of polymer composites reinforced using nano-meter-sized particles. The proposed work will focus on a selected set of nano-meter-sized materials (nano-clays and metal oxide NP) relevant to the packaging sector. Full characterisation will be carried out, followed by an exposure measurement in order to identify and quantify any potential particle release in the production and processing activities. A comprehensive hazard assessment will allow the evaluation of effects on human and environmental models, including the development of a NP migration and release index as a hazard indicator. Results from the exposure and hazard assessment studies will be used to compile a risk assessment of the use of NP in the packaging industry. An evaluation of the effectiveness of risk management measures will be undertaken in order to select and design practical and cost effective strategies, which will be easy to implement in the real operational conditions of industrial settings. In addition, as part of this assessment we will conduct a life cycle assessment of nano-composites, by evaluating their impacts during the processes of manufacture, use and disposal.
The key aims of this project are aligned with the needs of the packaging industries in relation to the use of NP as nano-reinforcements the need to improve knowledge and guidance on safety issues for workers and consumers, which must be addressed prior to their widespread use.