What are the key safety issues under investigation in various research projects?

Assessing the safety and toxicity of nanomaterials is complex and multifaceted. To be able to address the safety of nanomaterials, scientists are addressing a number of important issues. Each issue represents an important piece of the puzzle:

  • Physico-chemical characterisation of nanomaterials: how to appropriately measure parameters such as size, shape, solubility, and other properties
  • How do nanomaterials affect human health and the environment?
  • Environmental fate: what happens to nanomaterials in the environment? 
  • Exposure and exposure modelling: how are people exposed to nanomaterials and how is the environment exposed? How can this exposure be measured and modelled?
  • Safe-by-design: how can nanomaterials that are safe already in the early stages of product research and development be designed?

Finally, one important aspect of any research output is the standardisation of methodology to examine the properties of nanomaterials. Research projects, by their very nature, use and develop novel methods and techniques to address scientific questions. However, regulators normally work harmonised OECD test guidelines or other internationally recognised and validated test methods.

To give confidence to regulators across the globe, new techniques and methods developed in laboratories need to be harmonised and standardised. This requires strong coordination among different scientists and regulators around the world.