Vietnam has taken its first steps towards nano-safety management – a concept still novel but essential, a senior official said at a workshop on March 28.

Experts at the workshop said that initial steps being taken include raising public awareness of nanomaterial risks to human health and environment and formulating a national programme on nano technology development.

Nanotechnology can be widely used in many areas including chemicals, cosmetics, energy, electronics, engineering, food and medicine, they said. However, while it can have beneficial applications in all these areas, it can also have unintended effects that can adversely impact the environment, both within the human body and within the natural ecosystem, they added.

Hoang Duong Tung, deputy director of the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA), said nanotechnology was already being applied in many fields in Vietnam , therefore, focusing on nano safety management was important task.

Nguyen Anh Tuan, from the VEA's Pollution Control Department, named several risks that nanomaterials could exert on human health and environment.

He said a nano particle could invade water and soil resources when products using nanotechnology were being transported or used, and this can have unforeseen impacts.

A nano particle can cause DNA damage among human beings as also stunt plant growth, he said.

Nguyen Xuan Phuc, former chairman of Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology's Institute of Materials Science, said two steps have to be taken to raise public awareness of nano risks to human health and environment.
First, children should, step-by step, be educated on nano-related concepts at schools. Second, mass media have to strengthen dissemination of accurate information, he said./.