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A framework for screening human health and environmental risks from nanomaterials
Milind Kandlikar
On May 24th and 25th, 2012, the Liu Institute hosted a group of experts for a workshop on nanotoxicology, human exposure assessment, and environmental fate and transport.

 On May 24th and 25th, 2012, the Liu Institute hosted a group of experts for a workshop on nanotoxicology, human exposure assessment, and environmental fate and transport. The workshop forms part of a project which aims to generate a more complete understanding of risks and uncertainties for emerging nanomaterials. In support of this goal, the workshop was framed to address three main gaps in the nano-risk research and literature:

  • Develop a framework to structure expert judgments of nanomaterial risk assessments. The framework should allow exploration of relationships in both directions - forwards, enabling the identification of risk hot spots from known engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), and backwards, enabling the identification of problematic ENM characteristics from specific health or environmental concerns.
  • Build a comprehensive list of variables that drive toxicity and exposure, and develop robust metrics for evaluating the contributions of each variable, thus enabling a comparison of the risks and benefits across different materials.
  • Test the effectiveness of the framework and metrics in evaluating health and environmental concerns, with particular focus on nano-silver and carbon nanotubes, thus generating a clearer understanding of the risks and uncertainties surrounding these two groups of nanomaterials.

The risk screening framework that emerged from the workshop will be distributed to a larger set of experts who will contribute to the development of an expert judgment based tool/methodology for screening a range of ENMs and ENM-based products. The researchers hope this tool will enable regulators and industry to identify hot spots and areas of concern, to compare and rank risks from various ENMs and to identify opportunities for re-engineering materials and products to minimize risks.
 
This workshop was jointly funded by the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, at the University of California, Santa Barbara (CNS-UCSB), the Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEIN) at UCLA, & the University of British Columbia. Participants included Professors from the US and Canadian Universities and scientists from national research labs in the US and Canada. Compass Resource Management in Vancouver, BC provided expertise in structured decision making needed for running the workshop.

 

For more information, please contact:

Milind Kandlikar, Associate Professor, Liu Institute for Global Issues and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability
Tel: 604.822.5918
Email: mkandlikar@ires.ubc.ca  


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