LICARA- assessment of benefits and risks of nanomaterials

Great expectations surround the potential for engineered nanoparticles and nanomaterials to be key elements in the development of innovative materials, products and applications. Yet there are still unanswered questions:

• What are the nano-specific benefits ?
• What are the nano-specific risks to humans and the environment ?
• How sustainable are these products ?
• What are the legal issues ?

LICARA Guidelines

Empa, TNO  and the Nano-Cluster Bodensee  designed the LICARA- Guidelines (pdf-download 9.2 MB) together with partners from industry and science in order to help small and medium-sized enterprises ( SMEs ) deal with these questions. 
The LICARA guidelines contain a systematic and step by step proceeding on how to evaluate the benefits and risks qualitatively with low and manageable efforts.



The guidelines are accompanied by the LICARA nanoSCAN, which is tool that facilitates the implementation of the guidelines themselves and supports SMEs through their decision-making process. It does this by scanning both the benefits and risks over the nanoproduct's life time.

The web based tool LICARA NanoScan was developed by Empa, TNO and the University of Zürich based on an Excel version elaborated in the LICARA consortium. It is also based on the precautionary Matrix of BAG and BAFU.




van Harmelen, T.; Zondervan-van den Beuken, E. K.; Brouwer, D. H.; Kuijpers, E.; Fransman, W.; Buist, H.B.; Ligthart, T. N.; Hincapié, I.; Hischier, R.; Linkov, I.; Nowack, B.; Studer, J.; Hilty, L.; Som, C. (2016) LICARA nanoSCAN - A tool for the self-assessment of benefits and risks of nanoproducts. Environ. Int. 91: 150-160. (pdf)

C Som, den Beuken E Zondervan-van, T Van Harmelen, J Güttinger, M Bodmer, D Brouwer, H E Buist, R Carroll, C Coll, W Fransman, A Hartmanis, I Hincapie, R Hischier, T Karachalios, K Kouravelou, E Kuijpers, T Ligthart, D Notter, B Nowack, U Seibold, G Schneider (2014)  LICARA Guidelines for the sustainable competitiveness of nanoproducts, Dübendorf, St. Gallen, Zeist, 2014. (pdf-download 9.2 MB)

Notter, D.; Mitrano, D. M., Nowack, B. (2014) Are nanosized or dissolved metals more toxic? A meta-analysis. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 33:  2733-2739.  (pdf)

Coll, C.; Notter, D.; Gottschalk, F.; Sun, T. Y.; Som, C.; Nowack, B., Probabilistic environmental risk assessment of five nanomaterials (nano-TiO2, nano-Ag, nano-ZnO, CNT, Fullerenes). Nanotoxicology 2016, in press. (pdf)

Notter, D. A.; Kouravelou, K.; Karachalios, T.; Daletou, M. K.; Haberland, N. T., Life cycle assessment of PEM FC applications: electric mobility and µ-CHP. Energy & Environmental Science 2015, 8, 1969-1985. (article)

This project has received funding from the Sventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under Grant Agreement Number 315494.


Claudia Som

Technology & Society Laboratory
Lerchenfeldstrasse 5
CH-9014 St. Gallen
Tel.: +41 58 765 76 92