“An increasing number of workers, consumers and the environment will be exposed to nanomaterials.”
29th of May 2018
Course leader presentation: Kai Savolainen
Safety and Risks of Engineered Nanomaterials, 23rd – 24th of October 2018, Quality Hotel View, Malmö, Sweden
Kai Savolainen, Research Professor, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
I received an M.D. degree in 1976 and a Dr. Sci. degree in 1981 from the Medical School of the University of Helsinki. I had received a permanent position at the National Public Health Institute (NPHI), Department of Environmental Hygiene and Toxlcology, but worked 1985 – 1987 at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Kansas as a Fogarty International Research Fellow with funding from the US, National Institutes of Health, and obtained a Ph.D. degree in Toxicology from the University of Kansas in 1987.
After several years as a toxicology laboratory and department head at the NPHI, I moved to the University of Kuopio, and became first Professor of Environmental Chemical Hygiene in 1995, and then Chair and Professor of Toxicology at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in 1996. In 1998 I moved from Kuopio to Helsinki and started at FIOH as the Director of the Department of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. Nanosafety Research became a success story during my tenure at FIOH, and Nanosafety Research Centre was established at the beginning of 2011. For years, it was one of the most important nanosafety research hubs in Europe. The Centre had a fantastic staff and a highly dynamic work atmosphere. The Centre was dissolved in 2016, and the prominent staff of the Centre now works in different professor positions in Finnish Universities, and in Karolinska Institute in Sweden. During those nanosafety years, I coordinated several large EU nanosafety research projects reporting of which I continue at FIOH.
Why do you think that Safety and Risks of Engineered Nanomaterials is an important and current issue to discuss in 2018?
It is hard to say when engineered nanomaterials were exactly discovered, but a Nobel Prize was granted for the discovery of fullerenes in 1996, and for the discovery of graphene in 2010. From the beginning of this century nanomaterials have found a huge number of applications in all areas of life, industrial production and consumer goods. Some examples include sun block creams, cosmetics, medicines, sportswear, clothing in general, medical imaging, mobile phones, TV sets, all ict equipment, telecommunication like communication fibers consisting of carbon nanotubes, insulation in the construction industry, making of cars, especially electric cars etc. The list is endless. This means that an increasing number of workers, consumers and the environment will be exposed to nanomaterials.
This also means that the potential risks to humans and the environment are on an increase, not the opposite, and new nanomaterials are entering the market at an ever-increasing pace. Hence, we have just started to assess hazards and risks of these materials. It is good to remember that when only one nanotoxicology paper was published in 1991, the number increased to 3000 in 2016, hence more than exponential growth, and our understanding of possible hazards of these materials has just started to emerge. The pressure towards better nanomaterial risk and hazard prediction is also set by the economy to enable a market place for these materials. Their economic benefits have been expected to exceed 2 billion euros in the coming years.
On this years course
The course provides useful information on nanomaterials, exposure to them and different health effects of nanomaterials in different organ systems, not forgetting the mechanism through which these materials might work. The course also offers up-to-date information on hazard and risk assessment of nanomaterials and current guidance and regulations on nanomaterials.