Akzo Nobel extolls benefits of nanotech for paint industry

03 November 2009 22:49  [Source: ICIS news]

BRUSSELS (ICIS news)--The addition of nanoparticles to paint is the best way forward for growth in the industry, an Akzo Nobel director said on Tuesday.

Nanotechnology offered great benefits for the industry “not least in terms of weight reduction and increased strength, especially of buildings and aircraft”, said Craig Barker, director of regulatory affairs at Akzo Nobel. He was speaking at a conference in Brussels.

He said these benefits were made possible as the addition of nanoparticles to paints and coatings made “single layer applications” a reality. 

Barker said nanotechnology was “still quite a new science” for the paint and coatings industry and was being used with silver, carbon, clays, silica and oxides of iron, titanium, tin and zinc, for example.  

Barker said that there were still issues to be resolved to win over public confidence to the technology. As such, a dialogue should be opened on the issue among all stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and trade unions, he said.

Rather than focussing on the potential problems, the debate should move on to ensuring that workers in the chemical industry and consumers of these products were not exposed to nanoparticles, he said.

“Reducing exposure through inhalation by using applications in a dispersed form in a liquid medium is the best way,” he told delegates, adding that manufacturers of paints with nanoparticles should also use “the best engineering controls”.

“Personal protective equipment [for workers] should be the minimum standard,” he said. 

“I would not like to see the precautionary approach adopted whereby if we don’t have full information we are not allowed to use it, but instead want to ensure that we keep any possible exposure down to a minimum until we have sound science,” Barker said.

David Santillo, senior scientist at Greenpeace’s research laboratories, said the paints and coatings industry needed to be “clearer about the benefits” of nanotechnology, to quantify them and explain better the potential risks and unknowns surrounding these new products.

“At this stage we do not have the testing in place to say that these products are safe to deal with, especially at the end of their life,” he said.

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By: Philippa Jones
+44 20 8652 3214



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