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October 28, 2010

IJOEH Publishes Special Issue on Human and Environmental Exposure Assessment for Nanomaterials

Lynn L. Bergeson

The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health (IJOEH) has posted a special issue concerning human and environmental exposure assessment for nanomaterials. The issue includes articles such as “Understanding Workplace Processes and Factors that Determine Exposures to Engineered Nanomaterials,” “Nanotechnology and Exposure Science: What Is Needed to Fill the Research and Data Gaps for Consumer Products,” “Imaging and Characterization of Engineered Nanoparticles in Sunscreens by Electron Microscopy, under Wet and Dry Conditions,” and “Exposure Assessment:  Recommendations for Nanotechnology-Based Pesticides.”

The article entitled “Exposure Assessment: Recommendations for Nanotechnology-Based Pesticides,” authored by scientists from Oregon State University and the European Union, includes the following six recommendations to assess exposure to nanotechnology-based pesticides:

  • Disclose nanoparticle characteristics in pesticide formulations for registration;
  • Apply an additional uncertainty factor for nanotechnology-based pesticides during the risk management process;
  • Use a route-specific approach for assessing exposure to nanotechnology-based pesticides;
  • Require nanotechnology-based pesticide products be tested in their commercial form, instead of the active and inert ingredients being evaluated separately;
  • Initiate health surveillance programs in parallel with introduction of novel nanotechnology-based pesticides; and
  • Conduct education and outreach activities on nanotechnology-based pesticide-specific issues and safe use practices.

The authors conclude that U.S. and European governments and agencies “will have to make complex decisions about the suitability of existing regulatory systems and determine whether new measures are needed if [nanotechnology-based pesticides] are adopted into the market.” The authors predict that regulators will have to make pending and future decisions with a high degree of uncertainty, including the lack of toxicity and human exposure data.