Seminar Abstract

Philip Demokritou
Harvard School of Public Health
Harvard University

Critical issues in Risk Assessment of Engineered Nanomaterials: Current evidence and remaining challenges

Numerous reports and commissions have documented the explosion of discoveries in nanotechnology. Moreover, these discoveries are quickly moving out of the laboratory into commercial products and human and environmental exposures are inevitable. While a great deal of progress has been made over the last decade in terms of hazard identification and characterization of nano related risk, major knowledge gaps still exist and need to be bridged. The current nano risk assessment paradigm is based on the “raw materials” and needs to be expanded to take into consideration the environmental health implications across their life cycle. The current scarce population exposure assessment data need to be enriched. Rather than assessing the toxicity of specific nanomaterials, we need to examine the fundamental principles which govern their toxicity and link nanomaterial properties to bio-interactions. Moreover, it has become apparent that the environmental health and safety implications of nano-enabled products need to be assessed in parallel with nanotechnology and its applications. This will require a drastic change in the current modus operandi and requires joint efforts by all stakeholders involved – academia, industry and regulators.

This seminar aims to discuss the current risk assessment paradigm, identify critical issues for future research in this area and showcase data from multidisciplinary research projects taking place at the Harvard Nano-Center.

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