Each year, approximately 6 million people are exposed to nanoparticles in the air. In Finland, this means about a thousand people, but in the USA the figure is three million. When it comes to countries with fast economic growth, reliable information cannot be obtained. The problem is growing as the use of nanomaterials is quickly increasing.
Nanoparticles are formed when dust-forming nanomaterials, such as metal oxides and carbon-based materials, are handled. Typical fields include the cosmetics, food, medical, automobile, electronics, paper, construction and chemical industries, especially the production of paints and pigments. Exposure can also occur in fields using semiconductors and polymers.
Portable measuring devices make measuring easier
"Preventing exposure requires better monitoring of industrial hygiene, determining threshold values for health hazards and easy-to-use measuring devices", Research Professor Kai Savolainen from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health says.
"In the Nanodevice project, which was funded by the European Union's seventh framework programme, 14 portable devices were developed to measure the industrial nanomaterial content in the air, such as the number of particles or mass and particle size distribution. No portable devices like these were previously available in the market", the project's co-ordinator Savolainen says.
Device manufacturer gained access to a new market
In addition to the Finnish Dekati Oy, five other leading European nanoparticle measuring device manufacturers participated in the project. During the project, Dekati developed new devices that are easy to use and more efficient to manufacture. "The devices are much simpler than before and they only contain one circuit board, which means that the manufacturing process can be automated", describes Ville Niemelä, who is in charge of product development at Dekati.
This co-operation has also brought new business to Dekati. "We gained access to the important occupational health and industrial hygiene market, which would not have happened without this project", Niemelä says.
The product development, manufacturing and management of Dekati's devices, which are designed measuring nanoparticles and taking samples, are located in Tampere. The international retail network brings 95 per cent of sales from abroad.
"Finland is a world leader in nanoparticle research, and we see a lot of potential for growth in the field."
Research Professor Kai Savolainen
The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
kai.savolainen (at) ttl.fi
Tel. +358 30 4742 200
Product Development Manager Ville Niemelä
ville.niemela (at) dekati.com
Tel. +358 3 3578100
Author: Anna-Mari Vimpari/Recommended Finland