As global awareness of environmental issues and safety is growing, we do not only realize the need to be proactive and take preventive actions on environmental pollution and the protection of public health, but we also have to deal with decisions that were made sometimes decades ago. Today we appreciate the need to clean up polluted air and water, to decontaminate soil and to replace hazardous chemicals and other components that are used in our near vicinity such as toys, clothes, cosmetics, dermatological products and foods.
In many of these areas, the interaction of materials at the nanoscale plays an imperative role, and insight into this field will make an important contribution to characterization, assessment, predictability and safety control – in terms of both securing future health and safety and cleaning up pollution deriving from the past. One example is the area of toxicology and the characterization of materials and interfaces where behavior in certain contexts and environments, for example nanoparticles interacting with the body or the environment, are essential, as little is known regarding interaction, spreading and long term effects. Another area of importance is that of decontamination, such as filtration of water or decontamination of soil.