2007 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show - Nanotech 2007 - 10th Annual

Health Risk Assessment of Products Containing Nano-engineered Materials

F.S. Mowat, A.L. Hartzell, M.G. da Silva and J.S. Tsuji
Exponent, US

risk assessment, materials science, exposure, consumer products

Engineered nano-scale materials are increasingly being used in consumer products. Health risk assessments are needed to evaluate potential hazards associated with release of these materials and ensure regulatory and public acceptance. This paper presents a framework encompassing exposure, materials science, and toxicity to aid in characterizing risk, engineering “safety” in products containing nanomaterials, and allowing both manufacturers and consumers to make educated decisions regarding production and use of particular products. Given the current limited knowledge on health and environmental effects and lack of standard methodology for quantifying exposure, a key focus for manufacturers should be on engineering processes and consumer products that encapsulate or limit liberation of free nanomaterials. With regard to toxicity, standard screening tests are currently under development for nanoscale particles. Although the assessment of health and environmental effects of engineered nanomaterials is in its infancy, understanding of the material properties of products is a well-established field. Materials science can aid in evaluating manufacturing-related operational exposure during production and throughout product lifetime (including consumer use and exposure) through relatively simple tribology and reliability testing. Even without such testing, existing knowledge of the properties of resins and binders in products can be used to formulate products that retain nanomaterials.

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