[Excellent R&D] ACEnano Toolbox for H2020
Professor Yoon Tae-hyun, Department of Chemistry
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Whilst the rapid development of technology has made our lives immensely easier, it has also brought unavoidable consequences that have affected our society. It is a double-edged sword with ongoing debates among scholars, civilians, and politicians regarding the extent to which it should be regulated to safeguard our society, resulting in such different standards and regulations imposed onto products. Yoon Tae-hyun (Department of Chemistry), is in the process of developing a toolbox that would allow companies to avoid clashes with these different regulations imposed in each country.
Yoon’s work in the field of analytical chemistry involves analyzing the influence of each nanoparticle that is also vastly used in our daily products such as makeup and humidifier sterilizers, depending on their size, shape, component, physical or chemical response, and biological influence. His focus is on developing the ACEnano toolbox (Analytical and Characterization Excellence in nanomaterial toolbox), which is an international cooperative research between Korea and the European Union (EU) with the goal of H2020 (Horizon 2020).
With the goal of creating a nanomaterial risk assessment tool, he wishes to help companies overcome the different regulatory barriers in each country when exporting their products. “Each country has its own legal and regulatory systems that companies must pass before putting their products out in the market. Most companies do have the capacity to develop high quality and effective products to bring maximum profit, but they don’t have enough capacity nor specialized knowledge in the safety area that ultimately prevents them from entering the market,” said Yoon.
The project is carried out with ACEnano international consortium, with main members from the EU such as Austria, Germany, and Sweden, as well as partner countries such as Korea, China, and Mexico. The research also involves global equipment and manufacturing companies to add practicality. The developed toolbox will help companies using nanotechnology to minimize any potential harm coming from the nanoparticles on the human body or the environment, hence giving it the name, "safety by design." “The fact that companies will also be able to develop environmentally and physically safe, high quality and effective products and thus have no problems with tough regulations in different countries will allow countries to avoid clashes and lead to continuous exchange,” stated Yoon.
According to Yoon, the EU has already started registering all nanomaterials since 2018, and Korea plans to follow its steps in 2023. This creates an opportunity for partial commercialization of the toolbox in just two to three years. He believes that in order to protect the environment from nano-chemical materials and our health from unregulated nano-chemical products, it is definitely crucial for there to be regulations. However, there should also be a global standard that rules out unnecessary and tough regulations that are not based on scientific evidence to also allow companies to be more interactive with their products and their development. “Recently, there have been frequent chemical material accidents that have instigated debate on whether to have tougher regulations or not. However, I don’t think this is a simple black-and-white matter to decide. New technology is always a double-edged sword, and we should look for ways to minimize the negatives and maximize the positives,” said Yoon.
Park Joo-hyun email@example.com
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