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[Music plays and text appears: Nanosafety: the big picture]

[Images of different nanoparticles appear on screen]

[Image changes to show Dr Maxine McCall, CSIRO nanosafety research leader]

Dr Maxine McCall: Nanoparticles are objects or chemicals that occur in really, really tiny form of the order of 1 to 100 nanometres.

[Image has changed to show a zoomed in picture of a human hair with nanoparticles on it]

To put that in perspective, the width of the human hair is about 800 times bigger than a nanoparticle.

Nanoparticles are manufactured but they also occur naturally.

[Image changes to show milk being poured into a glass]

They occur in milk, they're generated in bushfires and they occur in volcanic ash. Nanotechnologies have the potential to offer a wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits.

[Image changes to show a large quantity of people walking through city streets and then back to a zoomed in image of a nanoparticle]

The small size of nanomaterials confer different properties than larger particles of the same substance, for example they may be more conductive or stronger or even more chemically reactive and its these different properties that make nanomaterials useful.

[Image changes to show a scientist handling a sample in a petri dish]

CSIRO has a comprehensive research program to investigate the safety aspects of nanomaterials.

[Camera pans over different samples in test tubes. Image then changes to show two scientists reviewing data on a computer screen]

One of the areas we work in is developing methods to detect nanoparticles, for example to detect nanoparticles in our workplace and measure exposure or even to detect nanoparticles generated in bushfires.

[Image changes to show someone surfing and then to people swimming in the water and sitting on the sand of a beach]

We're also looking at nanoparticles and their effect on human health, specifically looking at products that humans use that contain nanoparticles.

[Camera pans over different brands of high protective sunblock]

One of these products is sunscreens and we have quite a large project to look at whether or not nanoparticles in sunscreens penetrate human skin and what the biological effects might be.

[Image has changed to show trucks and cars driving on roads and then back to Dr McCall]

Another area where we're working is looking at the effects of nanomaterials released to the environment. For example we have a study where we're looking at nanoparticles combusted in diesel fuels and whether or not they are transformed when released to the environment.

[Image has changed to show a prawn inside a petri dish the area that contains nanoparticles highlights blue] Once in the environment nanoparticles might enter the food chain so we have a study with radioactively labelled nanoparticles added to algae and sediment and we're looking at transfer up the food chain to snails and prawns.

[Image has changed to show a man reviewing data on a computer monitor]

All the data generated from our experimental research program goes to a theoretical program where we're developing models to predict the biological effects of nanomaterials based on their physical and chemical properties.

[Image has changed back to show Dr McCall]

CSIRO's Nanosafety team works very closely with Australian government departments and regulators. The information we generate can be used by policy makers in Australia for the safe use of nanomaterials.

[Music plays and the CSIRO logo appears with text: Big ideas start here]