, 14:1029

Development of risk-based nanomaterial groups for occupational exposure control

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Given the almost limitless variety of nanomaterials, it will be virtually impossible to assess the possible occupational health hazard of each nanomaterial individually. The development of science-based hazard and risk categories for nanomaterials is needed for decision-making about exposure control practices in the workplace. A possible strategy would be to select representative (benchmark) materials from various mode of action (MOA) classes, evaluate the hazard and develop risk estimates, and then apply a systematic comparison of new nanomaterials with the benchmark materials in the same MOA class. Poorly soluble particles are used here as an example to illustrate quantitative risk assessment methods for possible benchmark particles and occupational exposure control groups, given mode of action and relative toxicity. Linking such benchmark particles to specific exposure control bands would facilitate the translation of health hazard and quantitative risk information to the development of effective exposure control practices in the workplace. A key challenge is obtaining sufficient dose–response data, based on standard testing, to systematically evaluate the nanomaterials’ physical–chemical factors influencing their biological activity. Categorization processes involve both science-based analyses and default assumptions in the absence of substance-specific information. Utilizing data and information from related materials may facilitate initial determinations of exposure control systems for nanomaterials.

Special Issue Editors: Candace S.-J. Tsai, Michael J. Ellenbecker
This article is part of the Topical Collection on Nanotechnology, Occupational and Environmental Health
This article is based on a presentation at the 5th Int’l NanOEH, Boston, MA, August 9–12, 2011.


The findings and conclusion in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the view of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.