WITHIN THE EUROPEAN SOCIAL DIALOGUE, the EFBWW (European Federation of Building and Wood Workers), EFIC (European Furniture Industries Confederation) and UEA (European Furniture Manufacturers Federation) have taken the initiative to commission IVAM UvA BV to investigate the current awareness amongst stakeholders and to make an overview of actual nano-products at the European furniture market. This executive summary summarizes the state of use of nanomaterials in furniture in 2012, near future potentials, health and safety issues and good practices for organising a safe workplace in the European furniture industry.
Central questions addressed are:
• What types of nanomaterials are being used in manufacturing of furniture products?
• What are near future perspectives for using nanomaterials in furniture manufacturing?
• What health and safety issues may play a role for workers at the workplace?
• What would a precautionary safe workplace look like?
“Nano” specifies an order of magnitude. Nanotechnology simply means the ability to observe, monitor and influence materials (and their behaviour) down to the nanometer (nm) detail (e.g. a size range about 10,000x smaller than the thickness of a human hair). This involves advanced imaging techniques to study and improve material behaviour, but also the design and production of very fine powders, liquids or solids containing particles of a size between 1 and 100nm, so called nanoparticles. A nanomaterial (MNM) is a material that consists at least for 50% of nanoparticles1. Companies make use of nanomaterials to give their products new or improved properties (nanoproducts). The furniture industry isn’t a large user of raw nanomaterials, but does use nanoproducts.