Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 513-527

First online:

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

  • Igor LinkovAffiliated withEnvironmental Laboratory, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Email author 
  • , Jeffery SteevensAffiliated withU.S. Army ERDC
  • , Gitanjali Adlakha-HutcheonAffiliated withDefense Research and Development Canada
  • , Erin BennettAffiliated withIntertox Inc. and Bioengineering Group
  • , Mark ChappellAffiliated withEnvironmental Laboratory, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • , Vicki ColvinAffiliated withICON, Rice University
  • , J. Michael DavisAffiliated withNational Center for Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • , Thomas DavisAffiliated withEnvironment Canada and Department of Chemistry, University of Montreal
  • , Alison ElderAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Medicine, University of Rochester
    • , Steffen Foss HansenAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Engineering, NanoDTU, Technical University of Denmark
    • , Pertti Bert HakkinenAffiliated withToxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA)
    • , Saber M. HussainAffiliated withAir Force Research Laboratory
    • , Delara KarkanAffiliated withHealth Canada
    • , Rafi KorensteinAffiliated withDepartment of Physiology and Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Marian Gertner Institute for Medical Nanosystems, Tel Aviv University
    • , Iseult LynchAffiliated withIrish Centre for Colloid Science & Biomaterials, School of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, University College Dublin
    • , Chris MetcalfeAffiliated withTrent University
    • , Abou Bakr RamadanAffiliated withNational Egyptian Environmental and Radiation Monitoring Network
    • , F. Kyle SatterstromAffiliated withEngineering Sciences Laboratory 224, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences


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.


Nanomaterials Risk assessment Decision analysis Regulatory policy Uncertainty analysis Nanotechnology governance Societal implications