Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Final Few Words...

Finally, our SGT project work has come to an end. But, it would definitely rise a different perspection to think of our beloving environment and health. Usage of Nanomaterials in the consumer products are still new and most of their characteristics are still unknown. Again, most of the general people are not aware of these nanomaterials related facts and I believe that our work would never be done until we convey our gathered information to them. This is why we have chosen Helsingin Sanomat, the biggest daily newspaper in Finland as our reporting medium to make people atleast to think about the nanomaterials surrounding them. A full page article would be published regarding these nanomaterials related facts quite soon.

This project work has given me a lot. It has given me an idea how big project works are performed, how Finnish corporate world works and most importantly, I have made some amazing friends like Mirja, our group mentor, Saara, Esen, Basanta and Martin. Thank you guys for this wonderful, energetic and work worthy Spring'11 semester. I believe, our friendship will not end with the end of this project work and please keep connected with me via gmail, facebook or some other social networking site.

I am also very grateful to the SGT course coordinators for giving me the opportunity to work in this superb project. Please, keep arranging these types of projects in every year and make sure that the works and ideas are implemented practically to fulfill the greater needs.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Final Presentation and Course End

After four months of hard work and chain meetings our project has finally come to an end. We had final presentation on 09 May. The feedback obtained were really great and it was really nice to hear other projects. We were happy to work for this project and would like to thank all the persons involved with us. We are grateful to all the experts for providing us the opportunity to learn. It was fun learning and making the project product.

Friday, April 22, 2011

MY Camp in June

A Millenium Youth (MY) camp is organized that would take place from June 11, 2011 to June 17, 2011 in Helsinki. In this camp, some skillful and nice young people from different countries would be working in different groups on different topics. The participants were divided into 5 project groups and each group consists of 6 members.

I have been chosen to tutor the Water group of this MY camp event on behalf of my SGT Nano project group. The topic of this Water group is not finalized yet but some proposals have already been made. The topic would be selected according to the individual assignments done be each group members.

This one week event includes lectures, workshops, meetings with top Finnish scientists, team work, visits to the cooperating organisations and some leisure as well.

This kind of event is quite new to me and I am feeling so excited like all the participants of this camp. It would surely be one of the best memorable events in my life.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

VTT Meeting

On April 5, 2011, a meeting was held with Ulrika Backman of VTT in their Otaniemi office. Though there were lots of restrictions to provide informations regarding VTT's ongoing researches on nanomaterials, Ulrika gave us a general idea on their activities towards nanomaterial safety issues on human health.

According to the meeting discussion, VTT is currently working on air borne nanomaterials and how much they effect on human health. In VTT laboratories, the researchers are working on the exposure level of air borne nanoparticles and based on the measurement data they are examining the toxicity level of human cells.

The researchers are also evaluating the environmental safety of nanomaterials based on five different methods.

Moreover, VTT is working on the life cycles of 4 different nanoparticles- nanocellulose, coated glass substrates, carbon nanotube composites and titanium dioxide in paint which are the mostly used nanomaterials in different consumer and industrial products.

As Ulrika said, there is nothing to get anxious regarding nanomaterials related hazards since no reported public health impacts is found yet caused by these materials. Again, in Finland, the number of air borne nanoparticles produced in the worst case scenario is very low (3000-5000 particles per cubic centimeters) compared to the other countries, e.g. Germany (20000-30000 particles per cubic centimeters).

Kemira Meeting

On March 29, 2011, we all went to the R&D centre of Kemira which is located in Espoo for our third group meeting with a company. The meeting was started with a presentation demonstrating company's brief description, their ongoing activies and future goals. Afterward, a lab tour was held to introduce us to some of their ongoing research works. In their pulp processing lab, they showed us that they had been trying to utilize micro and nano cellulose to intoduce an improved pulp and paper making process for quite some times. After the lab tour, an interview session was arranged where we talked to some of the experts and researchers working at that R&D centre. We asked them about several aspects regarding nanomaterials, their products those use nanomaterials, possible hazards to health and environment, existing legislations to control the exercise of nanomaterials in various products.

According to the meeting discussion, in present there is no standard test method which can define nanomaterials appropriately. Because, nanomaterial length ranges 1-100 nm at one or two dimensions and methods differ due to this diffrent size range. Nanomaterials of same kind of different sizes effect differently, so it is very difficult to put any particular legislation what would say which nanoscale size should be used to manufacture the products that satisfies safety issues. In this case, industries who use nanomaterials always need to pay focus on their products and since the safety of consumers is their primary responsibility, they must run researches on their products at continuous basis to find out whether they are at good or bad phases. They are bound do that for their own survival in this competitive market.

Again, several surveys conclude that, most of the hazards what might caused by the nanomaterials can occur in the manufacturing level rather in the final products. So, worker safety needs to be taken as a big concern.

The Kemira researchers urge that, there should be a certified or government authorized nanomaterial research centre where all the companies would send the research results of their manufactured products. That certified centre would evaluate those research results and based on that evaluation the companies would be able to commercialize their products.

The meeting came to an end after a lunch session in the company's cafeteria.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Meeting with Finnish Institute of Occupational Health

On last Friday, 15th of April, we went to visit Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (Ty├Âterveyslaitos, TTL), which was the final meeting out of the total of six meetings. Altogether six researcher and experts were there to be interviewed. This spring 2011 European Commission has announced the NanoSafety Research Centre of TTL to lead the NanoSafety Cluster in Europe during two years. At the moment they have 7 big EU-projects going on related to nanomaterials. TTL’s research is mainly concentrating to health and environmental aspects of nanomaterials in workplaces where nanomaterials are produced. The research is three dimensional including risk estimation, defining the real exposure in workplaces and risk assessment work. This data will be valuable for the legislators. 

Like in previous meetings the message was clear that the health and safety research of nanomaterials is lacking behind of the nanotechnology development. They also mentioned that maybe big international companies like BASF and Bayer are already ahead in the research compared the public research because the safety of their products it’s a crucial thing for them. Some countries in Europe like Great Britain, France, German and Sweden have already their own nanostrategy. In Finland this kind of strategy will be structured in coming years.

Important thing is not just research but also understand what the results mean. For example TiO2 was discovered to be toxic when tested with rats by using very high doses. But this is same thing with every other particle when they are small enough, because inhalation is the most common exposure route. Also other publications have reported similar effects but these kinds of publications have to be discounted and examined carefully before any conclusions.   

TTL’s key message was that open communication is needed to avoid prejudices. Nanomaterials are important thing for many industries because of their good properties. Nanotechnology will create new jobs and help the success of the European industry. TTL’s job is to make sure these materials are safe to use, so no harmful releases to the environment will happen. The data their produce will also help to regulate nanomaterials.     

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Getting it together

We have now one more visit left and we have started to write a summary of our work. We have divided it to a smaller parts and each of us will write one part of it. Then we will put it together and translate it to finnish. After the translation we will send it to Helsingin sanomat editor. He will then read it and decide whether he will make an article about it. If it gets through then it will be published in Helsingin Sanomat science pages. I hope that they are interested and will write a story. This has been a very inspiring project and Im glad that I have been a part of it.