The Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering were commissioned to investigate whether or not nanotechnology raises or is likely to raise new environmental, ethical, health and safety or social issues, which are not covered by current regulations. Their report was published on the 29th July 2004. Particular emphasis is placed on the need to further our understanding of the human health and environmental effects posed by free manufactured nanoparticles and nanotubes, with a view to designing and then implementing appropriate regulation. The report set out a risk based approach for regulatory research, with knowledge gaps discussed in terms of its two key stages: (1) the identification of hazard (the potential of the substance in question to cause harm); and (2) a structured approach to determining likely exposure to the identified hazard.
Defra, as chair of the Government’s Nanotechnology Research Co-ordination Group (NRCG), needs to understand more comprehensively the existing state of knowledge in these two interdependent, regulatory focussed areas with a view to letting further detailed research contracts to fill the key data gaps. The focus of this contract is hazard, with exposure issues being addressed separately in a second scoping specification.
The aims of the proposed work are to:
· produce a summary report of the information available on:
1. appropriate methodologies to examine the: toxicology, ecotoxicology, persistence and bioaccumulation potential of manufactured unfixed nanoparticles and nanotubes. This should address the differences posed by variations in nanoparticle size and chemical composition, and address amongst other issues, the mechanisms of interaction of nanoparticles with cells and their components, and partitioning within and between tissues in organisms; and
2. epidemiology, with a particular focus on the exposure-health effect relationship in contexts, such carbon black manufacturing, where nanoparticle exposure has a case history, and undertaken with a view to developing guidance for future epidemiological studies;
·· to provide prioritised recommendations on each of the above points, setting out which are key areas for additional research to help develop policy and appropriate regulation.