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Monday, July 6, 2009

The European Union is examining the issue of nanotoxicology

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News The study will attempt to determine the dangerousness of nanoparticles on the health of Europeans and the environment.

Rising to the challenge is the NHECD ('Nano health-environment commented database') project, funded under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to the tune of EUR 1.45 million. The project partners are seeking to create a critical and commented database on the health, safety and environmental impact of nanoparticles. The project coordinator is Professor Oded Maimon from Tel Aviv University with participants from JRC (Italy), IVAM (Netherlands) and tp21 (Germany). Scientific papers and others types of publications including White Papers highlight the need for a methodology that would facilitate the reviewing of all available information, as well as the uncovering of underlying facts through the use of data-mining algorithms and methods. NHECD would make possible the transition from metadata like author names and key words to the information level. However, most existing electronic knowledge repositories including databases and content management systems are operated manually, which enables only a limited amount of data to be processed. Also, rather unsystematic taxonomy and ontology principles are used to guide the documents' classification and information extraction processes. The ultimate objective of NHECD is to develop an open access, robust and sustainable system that can meet the challenge of automatically maintaining a rich and up-to-date scientific research repository. This repository would enable a comprehensive analysis of published data on health and environment effects following exposure to nanoparticles, according to the project partners. The repository would also be harmonised to be compatible with existing databases at the metadata level. What is unique about this database is that various user groups, such as industry and public institutions, will be able to access, locate and retrieve information relevant to their needs, the partners said. The upshot of such a knowledge repository is that public understanding of the impact of nanoparticles on health and the environment will be strengthened. Moreover, it will support the safe and responsible development and use of nanotechnology. The partners anticipate three key results from NHECD, which started last December and will end in 2012. One of the outcomes of the project will be the creation of a novel layer of information for every paper analysed by the system. The creation of structured body of knowledge While the partners are optimistic about the results, they are also aware of the potential challenges they face.

Source :  Research Information Center


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