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Advanced tools for the safety assessment of nanomaterials

Abstract

Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) have tremendous potential to produce beneficial technological impact in numerous sectors in society. Safety assessment is, of course, of paramount importance. However, the myriad variations of ENM properties makes the identification of specific features driving toxicity challenging. At the same time, reducing animal tests by introducing alternative and/or predictive in vitro and in silico methods has become a priority. It is important to embrace these new advances in the safety assessment of ENMs. Indeed, remarkable progress has been made in recent years with respect to mechanism-based hazard assessment of ENMs, including systems biology approaches as well as high-throughput screening platforms, and new tools are also emerging in risk assessment and risk management for humans and the environment across the whole life-cycle of nano-enabled products. Here, we highlight some of the key advances in the hazard and risk assessment of ENMs.

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Fig. 1: Enabling a harmonized knowledge infrastructure supporting environment, health and safety (EHS) assessment of nanomaterials.
Fig. 2: Systems biology paradigm for ENM hazard and risk assessment focusing on the identification of a minimal yet most informative set of features with which to predict toxicity.

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Acknowledgements

The authors and their laboratories were supported, in part, by the European Commission through the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7-eNANOMAPPER, grant no. 604134; FP7-GUIDENANO, grant no. 604387; FP7-NANOMILE, grant no. 310451; FP7-NANOSOLUTIONS, grant no. 309329; FP7-SUN, grant no. 604305). We thank all the project partners for invaluable contributions to these projects, and the project officers for their guidance.

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Correspondence to Kai Savolainen.

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Fadeel, B., Farcal, L., Hardy, B. et al. Advanced tools for the safety assessment of nanomaterials. Nature Nanotech 13, 537–543 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-018-0185-0

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