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Innovative tool to improve risk assessment and promote the safe use of nanomaterials in the textile finishing industry (LIFE_ECO-TEXNANO)
Start date: Oct 1, 2013, End date: Mar 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background Europe’s textile sector is an important employer, exporter and service provider. Maintaining these benefits requires that the sector evolves to compete in an increasingly sophisticated global market. Innovation can help Europe’s textile sector to succeed, by focusing on higher value-added and sustainable products. Nano materials offer opportunities to provide such value-added products and the growth in nanotechnologies continues to present new prospects for sectors like textiles. However, more knowledge is still needed to clarify the overall environmental suitability (including the health implications) of these opportunities. Improved understanding about issues such as the potential toxicological impacts on people and nature will help to ensure that the adoption by Europe’s textile industry of nanomaterials produces sustainable outcomes. Objectives The LIFE_ECO-TEXNANO project aims to improve the competitiveness of the EU textile sector by demonstrating the suitability of nanomaterials for producing high value, low cost textiles. This will be achieved by improving the environmental performance of innovative textiles that incorporates nanoparticles. LIFE_ECO-TEXNANO’s focus will be in the textile finishing industry, where environmental and health and safety impacts from using nanomaterials during finishing will be assessed. The overall aim is to help confirm and demonstrate their potential as ‘green’ technologies. Two pilot trials will provide evidence of best practice in the application of nano-based techniques and will compare these with conventional finishing chemicals. Comprehensive Life Cycle Assessments will be carried out on nanomaterials and the findings will inform the development and testing of robust risk assessment techniques that will be made available to EU textile companies. Expected results: Results expected from ECO-TEXNANO include the following: The development of an innovative tool for improving knowledge on risk assessment of nanomaterials and promoting their safe use throughout their life cycle. This tool will allow environmental, health and safety impacts of future textile materials to be properly evaluated during their design stage; Emissions to air, soil and water will be reduced by 5% to 10%, depending on the specific measures implemented; The development of this tool will serve as a basis for the further development of a network to share data with stakeholders, including scientific committees, EU policy makers and international researchers, thereby helping to close knowledge gaps about nanomaterials; Enhanced knowledge on risk assessment of nanomaterials; Monitoring of risk characterisation ratios (RCR) in order to measure the improvements in the protection of the environment and human health from risks posed by nanomaterials; Demonstration of two pilot scale trials using nanoparticles. Results will be compared against conventional finishing techniques. Best practices identified during the project, will be implemented throughout the pilots. The technical feasibility of industrial application of nano particles in replacing conventional chemicals will be assessed. The independent trials in two different textile mills will help to validate the project concept. The pilots will be monitored with the aim of identifying possible barriers and ways of overcoming them.
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