P023_South Africa

The PLUS-UP European-African university network for Sustainable innovation and Health

 Pixabay Carbon Nanotube © Dean_Simone_pixabay

Cooperating countries: South Africa and Austria

Coordinating institution: Paris Lodron University of Salzburg, Dr. Martin Himly,

Partner institutions: University of Pretoria (South Africa)

Project duration: 1 September 2021 - 31 May 2023

The scope of the project is to form a nucleation for future synergistic research and teaching activities of both partners. The Austrian partner, the Bio-Nano Group at Paris Lodron University of Salzburg has built up a strong track record in nanosafety assessment focusing on human health, while the South African partner, the ECREA group at the University of Pretoria focuses on environmental aspects of emerging contaminants including nanomaterials. Nanotechnology-enabled products with enhanced functions and durability have entered the international markets. These products extend to skincare, electronics, textiles, sports equipment, and to applications in diagnostics and therapeutics. The rapid growth of nanotechnology economy has been accompanied, upon significant funding by the European Commission, by research in nanosafety as-sessment having resulted in the establishment of risk governance procedures and safe and sustainable-by-design strategies. In the upcoming framework program termed Horizon Europe (2021-2027) safety-related knowledge shall be transferred to aid sustainable innovation, combat emerging contaminants of ecological concern, and tackle environmental challenges such as micro- and nanoplastics. Specific sources of emerging contaminants of ecological concern are nanomaterials-derived particulates, sani-tizers and active pharmaceutical ingredients leaching into the environment. While the risk assessment of such substances in their individual state is rather straight forward and obligation of the producers, the understanding of mixture toxicity effects is much more complex and the resulting risk vs. revenue estimation basically remains with societal stakeholders including regulators or community authorities.