A functional assay-based strategy for nanomaterial risk forecasting

Christine Ogilvie Hendren, Gregory V. Lowry, Jason M. Unrine, Mark R. Wiesner

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

77 Scopus citations

Abstract

The study of nanomaterial impacts on environment, health and safety (nanoEHS) has been largely predicated on the assumption that exposure and hazard can be predicted from physical-chemical properties of nanomaterials. This approach is rooted in the view that nanoöbjects essentially resemble chemicals with additional particle-based attributes that must be included among their intrinsic physical-chemical descriptors. With the exception of the trivial case of nanomaterials made from toxic or highly reactive materials, this approach has yielded few actionable guidelines for predicting nanomaterial risk. This article addresses inherent problems in structuring a nanoEHS research strategy based on the goal of predicting outcomes directly from nanomaterial properties, and proposes a framework for organizing data and designing integrated experiments based on functional assays (FAs). FAs are intermediary, semi-empirical measures of processes or functions within a specified system that bridge the gap between nanomaterial properties and potential outcomes in complex systems. The three components of a functional assay are standardized protocols for parameter determination and reporting, a theoretical context for parameter application and reference systems. We propose the identification and adoption of reference systems where FAs may be applied to provide parameter estimates for environmental fate and effects models, as well as benchmarks for comparing the results of FAs and experiments conducted in more complex and varied systems. Surface affinity and dissolution rate are identified as two critical FAs for characterizing nanomaterial behavior in a variety of important systems. The use of these FAs to predict bioaccumulation and toxicity for initial and aged nanomaterials is illustrated for the case of silver nanoparticles and Caenorhabditis elegans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-1037
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume536
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Dissolution rate
  • Functional assay
  • NanoEHS
  • Nanomaterial risk assessment
  • Reference systems
  • Risk framework
  • Surface affinity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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