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Strategic research plan needed to help avoid potential risks of nanomaterials
Date:1/25/2012

vironmental effects of complex nanomaterials that are expected to enter the market over the next decade. Therefore, there is the need for a research strategy that is independent of any one stakeholder group, has human and environmental health as its primary focus, builds on past efforts, and is flexible in anticipating and adjusting to emerging challenges, the committee said.

Because the number of products containing nanoscale materials is expected to explode, and future exposure scenarios may not resemble those of today, selecting target materials to study on the basis of existing market size -- as is the practice now -- is problematic. To help guide research, the committee noted the following four research categories, which should be addressed within five years:

  • identify and quantify the nanomaterials being released and the populations and environments being exposed;
  • understand processes that affect both potential hazards and exposure;
  • examine nanomaterial interactions in complex systems ranging from subcellular to ecosystems; and
  • support an adaptive research and knowledge infrastructure for accelerating progress and providing rapid feedback to advance research.

While surveying the existing resources for research, the committee acknowledged a gap between funding and the level of activity required to support the committee's strategy. The committee concluded that any reduction in the current funding level of approximately $120 million per year over the next five years for health and environmental risk research by federal agencies would be a setback to nanomaterials risk research. Moreover, additional modest resources from public, private, and international initiatives are needed in critical areas -- informatics, nanomaterial characterization, benchmarking nanomaterials, characterization of sources, and development of networks for supporting collaborative research -- to derive maximum strategic value from the
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Contact: Jennifer Walsh
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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