Manufacture and use of nanomaterials: current status in the UK and global trends

R. J. Aitken, M. Q. Chaudhry, A. B. A. Boxall, M. Hull

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


This paper provides an overview of the production and use of nanomaterials (NMs), particularly in the UK. Currently, relatively few companies in the UK are identifiable as NM manufacturers, the main emphasis being the bulk markets in metals and metal oxides, and some niche markets such as carbon nanotubes and quantum dots. NM manufacturing in the UK does not reflect the global emphasis on fullerenes, nanotubes and fibres. Some assumptions have been made about the types of NM that are likely to be imported into the UK, which currently include fullerenes, modified fullerenes and other carbon-based NMs including nanotubes. Many university departments, spin-offs and private companies have developed processes for the manufacture of NMs but may only be producing small quantities for research and development (R&D) purposes. However, some have the potential to scale up to produce large quantities. The nanotechnology industry in the UK has strong R&D backup from universities and related institutions. This review has covered R&D trends at such institutions, and appropriate information has been added to a searchable database. While several companies are including NMs in their products, only a few (e.g. manufacturers of paints, coatings, cosmetics, catalysts, polymer composites) are using nanoparticles (NPs) in any significant quantities. However, this situation is likely to change rapidly. There is a need to collect more information about exposure to NPs in both manufacturing and user scenarios. As the market grows, and as manufacturers switch from the micro- to the nanoscale, the potential for exposure will increase. More research is required to quantify any risks to workers and consumers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-306
Number of pages7
JournalOccupational medicine-Oxford
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006


  • applications
  • exposure
  • health
  • nanoparticles
  • risk
  • safety
  • usage

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