, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 513-527,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Emerging methods and tools for environmental risk assessment, decision-making, and policy for nanomaterials: summary of NATO Advanced Research Workshop


Nanomaterials and their associated technologies hold promising opportunities for the development of new materials and applications in a wide variety of disciplines, including medicine, environmental remediation, waste treatment, and energy conservation. However, current information regarding the environmental effects and health risks associated with nanomaterials is limited and sometimes contradictory. This article summarizes the conclusions of a 2008 NATO workshop designed to evaluate the wide-scale implications (e.g., benefits, risks, and costs) of the use of nanomaterials on human health and the environment. A unique feature of this workshop was its interdisciplinary nature and focus on the practical needs of policy decision makers. Workshop presentations and discussion panels were structured along four main themes: technology and benefits, human health risk, environmental risk, and policy implications. Four corresponding working groups (WGs) were formed to develop detailed summaries of the state-of-the-science in their respective areas and to discuss emerging gaps and research needs. The WGs identified gaps between the rapid advances in the types and applications of nanomaterials and the slower pace of human health and environmental risk science, along with strategies to reduce the uncertainties associated with calculating these risks.