Nano Safety Upgrade

Jenna: Since AccessNano was released in 2008, there has been increasing awareness of potential safety concerns around nano-sized materials in the published scientific literature. We have therefore added new content around safety issues, specifically on carbon nanotubes and sunscreens.

  • A research paper in Nature suggested that carbon nanotubes may trigger dangerous inflammation and possibly cancer in exposed individuals, similar to the affects of asbestos. To get students aware of the potential concerns over carbon nanotubes, we have added a third activity to the Performance Materials –  Carbon Nanotubes module where students read a safety issues fact sheet on carbon nanotubes and perform a research activity to answer questions surrounding the issues of safety.
  • Similarly, to explore concerns over the use of nanoparticles in cosmetics and sunscreens, a research activity has been added to the Personal Care module. A news article reporting on protests at the L’Oreal fashion show in Melbourne is used as the starting point for exploring the issues regarding the use and safety of nanoparticles in sunscreens. If you’d like more information on the topic, Andrew Maynard from the University of Michigan Risk Science Centre has posted an article summarising the issues at his blog 2020 Science.

These activities have now been uploaded to revised PowerPoint slides and are available at the AccessNano website. We have also taken the opportunity to make a number of minor changes including checking hyperlinks, images and formatting to ensure the resource remains up to date and easy to use. We will continue to revise and evolve the resource, so please send us your feedback.


  1. […] also updated some of the teaching content on AccessNano to reflect updated information, including new content on safety issues relating to carbon nanotubes and sunscreen. Furthermore, AccessNano Teacher Professional Development sessions were held in NSW, Victoria, […]

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