Nanomaterials are used in many different types of products such as paint, cosmetics, textiles, sports equipment and electronic products. The unique properties of nanomaterials also mean that they present increased risks for people and the environment.
Nanomaterials are developed to make use of their unique properties. These can be, for example, electrical, optical, magnetic, chemical or mechanical properties. They are used in many different types of products such as paint, cosmetics, textiles, sports equipment and electronic products.
Nanomaterials are extremely small materials that are only a few atoms in size. Nanomaterials are very small forms of substances and some have always been naturally present in the environment around us. They are found in smoke from forest fires, salt crystals by the sea, car exhaust fumes and in ceramic materials.
Ever since the 10th century, nano-sized gold and silver have been used, for example, in coloured glass and ceramics. Carbon black has long been used in, for example, printing ink, rubber tyres and other black rubber parts.
The extremely small size means that a substance can have completely different properties when it occurs as a nanomaterial than in does in its usual form. The unique properties of nanomaterials also mean that they present increased risks for people and the environment. Not only the technical properties can change, but the hazardous properties can change as well. Nanomaterials can be absorbed, spread and act in the body and the environment in ways the substances do not in their normal size.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency keeps up to date with the latest research and works to develop more knowledge about the risks of nanomaterials. We also work within the EU and internationally to develop regulations to protect people and the environment.