Assessing the potential effects of nanomaterials on environment and human health consists of two distinct aspects: To what degree are nanoparticles released from products; and how and to what degree do the released nanoparticles affect organisms? The first aspect is centered on a field called exposure science, the study of human contact to agents - such as chemicals or microbes - found in their surroundings. A new study looks at the release of nanosilver from consumer products for children. The core finding is that the release of silver from nanosilver-containing products depends heavily on how the product is used. The total amount of silver released by a consumer product is likely to be very low and, for the products tested, happened only in the beginning of product life.
The European Commission acknowledges that nanomaterials are revolutionary materials and that important challenges exist in regard to hazard and exposure assessments. Yet, they conclude that current risk-assessment methods are applicable to nanomaterials. Scientists argue that significant changes to REACH and the accompanying annexes are required to answer the call made by the public, downstream users and progressive businesses for clearer and more definite regulatory rules specific to nanomaterials.
The purpose of the emerging field of nanotoxicity is to recognize and evaluate the hazards and risks of engineered nanomaterials and evaluate safety. Today, we don't even know what the impact of most chemicals is, and that includes products that have been produced by industry for many years. Nevertheless, a general understanding about nanotoxicity is slowly emerging as the body of research on cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, and ecotoxicity of nanomaterials grows. A new review summarizes and discusses recent reports derived from cell lines or animal models concerning the effects of nanomaterials on, and their application in, the endocrine system of mammalian and other species.
To date, the predominant focus of the nanotechnology risk research endeavor has been defining the fate, transport, and toxic properties of pristine or "as manufactured" nanomaterials. However, the high surface to volume ratio and reactivity of nanoparticles makes them highly dynamic in environmental systems. The resulting transformations of the nanomaterials will affect their fate, transport, and toxic properties. A recent review summarizes what is known about chemical, physical, and biologically mediated transformations of nanomaterials in natural systems and their effects on the resulting nanomaterial behavior.
As nanotechnologies are beginning to empower our lives in so many ways, understanding the environmental health and safety aspect of nanotechnology has become a crucial issue. The lack of information on the impact of engineered nanomaterials on organisms and the environment motivates researchers all over the world to strive for a better understanding of the implications of nanotechnology applications. Researchers have now provided a mechanistic understanding on how nanomaterials affect zebrafish embryos development and specifically answers the question on what causes the embryos to fail hatching at due time.
Silver nanoparticles are among the most commercialized nanomaterials due to their use as antibacterial agent in consumer products and surface coatings. Several reports have shown that silver ions from silver compounds or those that develop from nanosilver particles through contact with water are highly toxic to microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae. Contributing to an incomplete and confusing picture, in the literature, silver nanoparticles are claimed as nontoxic or toxic depending on their size, concentration and surface functionalization. Researchers have now reported on possible adverse effects of the silver nanoparticles upon their release into the environment and provided novel insights into the possible applications of silver nanoparticles in nanomedicine by discussing their p53 gene related cell death profiles.
Aquatic ecotoxicity test methods, which are routinely applied to testing of nanomaterials, were originally developed for water soluble chemicals. Nanomaterials are fundamentally different from many 'conventional' chemicals as they often have limited or no solubility at all and are potentially released to the environment in a particulate form (e.g. carbon nanotubes). Only limited nano-specific guidance on ecotoxicity testing is currently available, for instance existing OECD ecotoxicity test guidelines to nanomaterials. These guidelines exhibit a number of specific shortcomings mainly related to characterization, exposure preparation, quantification and monitoring concentrations, and dose-metrics. A new paper from scientists in Denmark contributes to the progress in algae testing of nanomaterials. This work also aids in the development of additional guidance as it adds to the understanding of pros and cons of different techniques for biomass quantification.
When a nanomaterial enters a physiological environment, it often adsorbs suspended biomolecules including proteins, lipids, small molecules, saccharides, and nucleic acids. These biomolecules define a new interface between the nanomaterial and its surroundings that mediates cellular association and response. In a recent article appearing in ACS Nano, Drs. Anna Salvati, Kenneth Dawson, and their colleagues at the University College in Dublin, Ireland, show that if nanoparticles are exposed directly to cells in the absence of suspended biomolecules, the nanoparticles will extract biomolecules from cells themselves. These findings suggest that in vitro toxicological or cell uptake studies performed in the absence of added serum may not be relevant in vivo.