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Title: Where Are We Heading in Nanotechnology Environmental Health and Safety and Materials Characterization?

Every chemist, material scientist, physicist, engineer, or commercial enterprise involved in the synthesis and/or production of engineered nanomaterials (ENM) or nano-enabled products aspires to develop safe materials. Nanotechnology environmental health and safety (nanoEHS) is a research discipline that involves the study of the possible adverse health and biological effects that nanomaterials may have on humans and environmental organisms and ecosystems. NanoEHS research has provided a body of experimental evidence indicating the possibility of hazardous outcomes as a result of the interactions of unique ENM physicochemical properties with similar scale processes occurring at a wide range of nano/bio interfaces, including at biomolecular, cellular, subcellular, organ, systemic, whole organism, or ecosystems levels. This projected hazard and risk potential warrants rigorous attention to safety assessment, safe use, safe implementation, benign design, regulatory oversight, governance, and public awareness to address the possibility and prevention of nanotoxicity, now or at any time in the future.1 Thus, we should understand the properties of the ENMs that are responsible for the toxicological response, so that we can re-engineer their physicochemical characteristics for risk prevention and safer ENM design.2 However, in spite of widespread use, no human toxicological disease or major environmental impact has been reported for ENMs.more » Thus, while “Nanotoxicology” is a thriving sub-discipline of Nano-EHS, the use of the “root” word toxicology may elicit a feeling that nanomaterials are inherently toxic despite the fact that toxicity has not been established in real-life use so far. As a community, we may want to rename this sub-discipline as “Nanosafety,” since the objective is to use toxicology information to guide the design of safer nanomaterials for use in medicine, biology, electronics, lighting systems, etc. At ACS Nano, we are interested in publishing articles and forward-looking Perspectives and Reviews that determine and establish ENM physicochemical properties, structure-activity relationships, catalytic effects at the nano/bio interface, mechanistic injury responses, in vitro to in vivo prediction making, safer-by design strategies, actionable screening and detection methods, hazard and risk ranking, fate and transport, ENM categorization, theory and modeling, societal implications, and regulatory/governance decisions.3 Context is important in the immediate and longer-range impact of this research, as we are interested in realistic nanoEHS exposure scenarios conducted with systematic variation of ENM physicochemical properties rather than investigations of a single or a limited number of materials in isolated in vitro studies that only address cytotoxicity at unrealistic doses. In order to make these data useful for researchers, government and regulatory agencies, and other interested parties, these studies, where possible, should include either appropriate positive and negative controls or benchmark materials to answer the important question, “as compared to what?” Dosimetry should be explained in terms of appropriate dose metrics relative to the type of materials, their mechanisms of injury, and exposure conditions, using in vitro to in vivo extrapolations where possible. Another important component of these studies includes appropriate physicochemical characterization of the nanomaterials.« less
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: ACS Nano, 9(6):5627-5630
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States