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Nanotechnology Risk Assessment Stands to Gain from Nanoparticle Categorization Framework

Chemicals in their nanoparticle form contain matter that totally differ from their larger physical forms and for that reason interact differently with and in biological systems.  For that reason, it is important to evaluate the hazards coming from any nanoparticle that will potentially come into interaction with human-beings, other species in the environment even when the toxicology of the chemicals that make up the nanoparticles is well known.

The traditional risk assessment methodology which consists of hazard identification, exposure assessment, and hazard characterization and risk characterization is yet to be applied to nanoparticles. Currently, there are no official guidelines on what is appropriate testing procedures and the commercial manufacture of nanoparticles is relatively new and with very limited information on their effects on humans and the environment.

However, in order to reap maximum benefits offered by nanotechnology, it is important that human health and environmental risks are considered in early stage in product development. Nonetheless, before this is done, there is a need for clarification of terminology for instance the existing literature tackling the latent risks of nanomaterials which exhibit a strong affinity to use the terms nanotechnology and nanomaterials as synonyms of nanoparticles.

Hence, the hazards related to nanotechnology and nanomaterials have so far primarily been recognized for specific nanoparticles and majorly carob based nanoparticles. All the same, the physical, chemical and biological properties of different nanomaterials differ quite considerably  from that of specific nanoparticles as do the projected routes of exposure making is critical to differentiate  nanomaterials in order to identify the potential risks and hazards they pose.

A major advantage of the proposed classification structure it’s a tool for dividing nanosystems into identifiable parts thereby facilitating assessments of, for example, pertinent contact routes or study of impact studies according to significance of the substance tested.   Another essential aspect that should be put into consideration in evaluating the toxicity of nanomaterials is their chemical and physical properties. These days it is still an unanswered question which properties determine or influences the inherent risks of nanoparticles. Since nanoparticles are very different from their everyday counterparts due to quantum and surface effects, their extreme effects cannot be derived from the known toxicity of the macro sized materials and this poses considerable issues for addressing the environmental and health impact of free nanoparticles.

In order to carry out and construe scientific studies on the risk properties of nanomaterials that are relevant for future risk evaluation of nanotechnology based properties and products, there is a need for strong interdisciplinary collaborations between toxicologists and nanoscientists like material engineers, chemists and physicists.

Keywords: nanotechnology,nanomaterials


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