With the increasing utilization of engineered nanomaterials (ENM), the potential exposure of workers to ENM is likely to increase significantly. Very little is known though, of the risks posed by ENM to human health, in particular concerning those characteristics that are technologically attractive: small size, high surface to mass ratio, and surface reactivity. ENM risk assessment is hampered by a lack of exposure as well as toxicity data specific to the multitude of ENM being developed. An economical approach to this problem urgently calls for intelligent testing strategies to capture essential features of ENM, thereby allowing over-arching ENM risk assessment. The data gaps of ENM risk assessment include (1) ENM aerosol standards and agreement on ENM key metrics; (2) dependable exposure scenarios, affordable monitoring technologies, exposure data and models; and (3) biomedical data on ENM translocation and toxicity, and associated testing strategies (which must be linked to the exposure scenarios). The special features of ENM do not, however, create a need to amend the current overall approach to the risk assessment of chemicals.
Risk assessment of engineered nanomaterials and nanotechnologies - A review
K. Savolainen, H. Alenius, H. Norppa, L. Pylkkänen, T. Tuomi, G. Kasper
Toxicology, 2010, 269, 92-104