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November 9, 2017

OECD Publishes Analysis of Survey on Consumer and Environmental Exposures to Manufactured Nanomaterials

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development published a November 7, 2017, report entitled Consumer and Environmental Exposure to Manufactured Nanomaterials — Information used to characterize exposures:  Analysis of a Survey.  The report provides a “light analysis” of the results of a Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN) survey on consumer and environmental exposures to manufactured nanomaterials.  The survey, initiated in 2015, was designed to collect information used to characterize consumer and environmental exposures for human and ecological risk assessment.  WPMN intended the survey to be used as a tool to inform potential avenues for future research and collaboration in the area of exposure assessment as it relates to manufactured nanomaterials.  The survey collected data on the importance and availability of information and data in six broad categories:  (1) material characterization; (2) production, use, and market; (3) releases to the environment (direct, indirect, and via consumer use); (4) environmental fate and transport; (5) exposure assessment (direct and indirect); and (6) exposure control and mitigation.  The report presents an analysis of the survey data within each of these categories and highlights the importance of multiple types of information, ranging from material characterization to environmental release and exposure analysis.  The report also contains a more detailed analysis of the issues in each of the six categories, with respect to perceived importance, data availability, and framework.  The report recommends potential avenues for future work by the OECD; these are grouped into the following three themes, based on linkages identified by the survey:

  • Theme 1 includes projects related to the development and use of exposure models for manufactured nanomaterials. This includes information on production/import quantities, exposure pathways, and exposure measurement in the environment, for consumers and of emissions from consumer articles and products;
  • Theme 2 includes projects on issues related to environmental behavior and transformation, and includes information on nanomaterials released from the use of articles and products to the environment; and
  • Theme 3 includes projects related to the material characterization of manufactured nanomaterials and includes data on the physical form of nanomaterials in products.

According to the report, recommended next steps include obtaining feedback on the direction proposed for future OECD projects and identifying specific projects that can be undertaken by WPMN.  Follow up on selected survey responses is also recommended to determine the feasibility and applicability of data for future activities