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September 9, 2016

Synopsis Available for 2016 U.S.-EU: Bridging NanoEHS Research Efforts Joint Workshop

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The synopsis is available for the June 6-7, 2016, U.S.-European Union (EU) Nano Environmental and Health Safety (NanoEHS) Research Efforts joint workshop.  According to the synopsis, the first day of the workshop was devoted to an interactive nanoEHS scrimmage in which the groups collectively responded to a spill of a hypothetical nanotechnology-enabled product.  U.S.-EU Communities of Research (COR) representatives planned the scrimmage, and the highlights and findings from the scrimmage are expected to be reported in the scientific literature.  The synopsis states that the rest of the workshop included plenary presentations and discussions, as well as breakout sessions in which each of the seven CORs met to discuss accomplishments and set priorities and plans for the coming year.  The final plenary session was an open discussion where the need to assess the current state of nanoEHS knowledge emerged as a significant priority for the entire community.  According to the synopsis, several participants noted that “this is a substantial and complex task to undertake, but that the CORs are uniquely positioned to contribute to such an activity.”  The synopsis includes summaries of the COR breakout sessions:

  • Characterization COR: Discussions during the Characterization COR breakout session highlighted how issues of poor data quality and reproducibility can negatively impact research and translation in areas as diverse as nanoEHS and biomedicine.
  • Databases and Computational Modeling for NanoEHS COR: The conversations in the Databases and Computational Modeling for NanoEHS COR breakout session touched on key findings from the nanoEHS scrimmage, including the utility of the mock safety data sheets (SDS).  According to the synopsis, the SDSs were generally regarded as helpful, but “[n]otably, the scrimmage participants assumed that the SDSs were valid, and the data supporting the SDS were not examined.”
  • Human Toxicity COR: The following improvements for future scrimmages were suggested:  documenting the wide range of opinions in response to the scrimmage scenario; giving each COR different starting information; and focusing more on the nanotechnology-specific aspects of the materials.  As an idea for the next scrimmage, participants suggested looking at common consumer products (g., sunscreen, antimicrobial textiles, carbon nanotubes in electronics) to determine if there is agreement among the CORs on exposure implications, as well as on potential impacts on human health or the environment.
  • Ecotoxicity COR: The two main topics discussed during the Ecotoxicity COR breakout session were quantification of nanomaterials in organism tissues after ecotoxicology testing and more environmentally relevant ecotoxicity testing.
  • Exposure through Product Life COR: Breakout session attendees brainstormed possible focus areas for the COR to address, with the following high-level needs emerging:  (1) data on chronic exposures to engineered nanomaterials; (2) information on scenarios in which engineered nanomaterials may be released from consumer products; and (3) methods to detect and quantify rapidly engineered nanomaterials in products at levels of potential exposure concern.
  • Risk Assessment COR: Participants discussed the lessons learned from the nanoEHS scrimmage, with the primary conclusions that:  (1) differences exist between risk assessment reference documents, governance, and communication across the U.S. and Europe; and (2) differences exist between the scientific assessment of risk carried out within this research community and the short-term evaluation and management processes required for successful management and communication of emergency situations.
  • Risk Management and Control COR: Ulla Vogel, EU Co-Chair, described the potential routes of worker exposure as inhalation, ingestion, and dermal and noted that inhalation is considered the major route of occupational concern for nanomaterials.  U.S. Co-Chair Dr. Vince Castranova gave a presentation on “Proposed Amendments to [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)] Subacute and Subchronic Inhalation Test Guidelines.”  According to Castranova, two changes appear likely:  (1) the current limit for mass median aerodynamic diameter (MMAD) may change from the current 1-4 micrometers (μm) limit to less than 2 μm; and (2) the current biological analysis of pulmonary response may change from histopathology alone to histopathology plus analysis of damage and inflammatory markers in bronchoalveolar lavage samples.  Further, it appears that measurement of lung burden and clearance of pulmonary nanoparticles will be recommended as optional.