In a series of articles published on May 3, 2019, regulatory news provider Chemical Watch informed about a number of recent collaborative efforts focused on better understanding the safety and risks of nanotechnology. In the first, a workshop with participants from EU and U.S. policy making bodies, academia, and industry met in March 2019 at Harvard University to identify priority areas for nanosafety research. The meeting resulted in a published report that identified the following seven research priorities: “1. Environment and human hazards; 2. Emerging nanomaterials and potential risks; 3. Social and natural science research to support balanced risk governance of emerging materials; 4. Nanoinformatics; 5. Exposure assessment at both environment and human population levels; 6. Standard methodologies, reference materials and harmonization; 7. Life cycle/transformation/value chain/stewardship.” Potential instruments for further developing EU-U.S. cooperation within the topic were discussed including participation of the U.S. in the Horizon 2020 and upcoming Horizon Europe research programs.

In an article published in the journal Nanoscale Advances, authors from the European Commission Joint Research Centre together with industry and academic research partners present a categorization scheme for nanomaterials considering the capabilities of measurement techniques. The scheme includes a matrix that matches a number of substance properties such as chemical composition and dimensions with appropriate measurement techniques such as microscopy and spectrometry. The authors found it “necessary to come to an agreement on which techniques can be used for which materials and for which purpose.”

An article published in the journal Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods and led primarily by German research scientists investigated existing research in nanotoxicology to identify current gaps in understanding and harmonizing risk assessment for nano materials. Their conclusions found that “even [with] the positive results mentioned in literature that something is toxic at a particular dose, the actual risk or hazard associated with the bulk form of exposure . . . is relatively low.” They also concluded that nanotoxicology as a field struggles with “its incredible complexity in regards to the immense effort that has to be made to fully understand the fundamental processes of how those materials interact with biological systems.”

In a press release published on April 29, 2019, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) announced the start of the project “InnoMat.Life” that will investigate “the health and environmental risks of novel (nano) materials” across their entire life cycles. Coordinated by the BfR with funding of just over 2 million Euro, the project includes 10 partners from public authorities, academia, and industry that will cooperate “to establish criteria for an efficient assessment” of the these health and environmental risks. Focus will be placed on novel materials as well as new manufacturing processes involving nanomaterials, such as 3D printing.

Read more

Maria Delaney (May 3, 2019). “EU and US identify priority areas for nanosafety research cooperation.” Chemical Watch

NanoSafety Cluster (April 24, 2019). “EU-US priorities in nanosafety.”

Maria Delaney (May 3, 2019). “JRC and industry develop categorisation scheme for nanomaterials.” Chemical Watch

Maria Delaney (May 3, 2019). “Germany’s BfR review reveals how nanotoxicology ‘struggles’ with complexity.” Chemical Watch

Maria Delaney (May 3, 2019). “German project to study nanomaterials over lifetime.” Chemical Watch

BfR (April 29, 2019). “InnoMat.Life: Increased safety for novel materials.”


Gaillard et. al. (2019). “A technique-driven materials categorisation scheme to support regulatory identification of nanomaterials.” Nanoscale Advances (published November 13, 2018).

Singh et. al. (2019). “Review of emerging concepts in nanotoxicology: opportunities and challenges for safer nanomaterial design.” Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods (published February 12, 2019).