On May 16, 2020, researchers from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the INM-Leibniz Institute for New Materials published an article in the peer-reviewed journal NanoImpact proposing a set of nano-specific human health safety aspects to consider during the innovation of nanomaterials. The study is an output of the NanoReg2 project under the Horizon 2020 research program, and it aims to support the development of nano-sized products that are ‘safe by design.’ It generated a set of 17 questions to help innovators to assess potential human health risks during the innovation process and decide if additional investments in a product are worthwhile, or if safer alternatives could be identified already at early design stages. The approach is described as being complementary to current regulations.

The questions are split across five innovation stages of scoping, building the business case, development, test and validation, and product launch. Overall, they aim to cover aspects including (i) physicochemical properties, (ii) toxicity, (iii) expected exposures and release scenarios, (iv) expected transformations, reactivity, accumulation, (v) magnitudes of exposure and impacts of upscaling, (vi) read-across or grouping, (vii) risk assessment, and (viii) quality of the production process. The practical feasibility of the approach was tested in the study through a questionnaire and discussion with several industrial partners involved in the NanoReg2 project.

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Chemical Watch (June 11, 2020). “Scientists develop guide for nanomaterials safe-by-design process.”


Dekkers, S. et al. (May 16, 2020). “Safe-by-Design part I: Proposal for nanospecific human health safety aspects needed along the innovation process.” NanoImpact.