NanoRelease was started in 2010 to develop self-governed consortia of experts from government, industry, and consumer safety organizations to discuss what we need to know to measure emission of nanomaterials from consumer products. Unlike measuring emission of chemicals from consumer products where methods had been gradually developed over many decades, it was not clear that there were methods to measure the unique properties of nanomaterials being developed for and even in some product uses over just a decade. Were we keeping up, was there unrecognized risk, or was it all clearly safe?
Most research in that decade focused on how toxic the pure nanomaterials made in laboratories could be. Virtually no research was being done on the nanomaterials that people might actually be exposed to from real product use. And it looked as though there were no standard methods that responsible industry or government could use to measure those nanomaterials. In the face of this lack of methods and data, there were very well supported arguments by experts in government, industry, and NGO for both high risk and no risk, and in this uncertainty investment in safe innovation was stifled. The goal of the projects was to develop understanding of the need for release measurement methods within a transparent and trusted process inviting all stakeholders to the table, and where necessary and possible to initiate methods development.
The activities of two consortia (one for consumer products, one for food additives) with independent steering committees were supported with funding raised from government, industry, and private foundation sources in US and Canada. So far the project has produced 6 workshops, over a dozen task groups, 17 papers by nearly 60 independent experts, and coordinated methods development work in laboratories around the world.
Recent work (late 2016/ early 17) includes published results of methods development work by an international set of authors from government and industry, release of the full data set for weathering carried out internationally using the NanoRelease protocols, and initiation of a joint Canada-US technical reference document project for the International Organization of Standardization (ISO TC229) to guide materials and methods selection for innovation using nanotechnology.
Publications in progress
Listing of publications for NanoRelease Consumer Products can be found here
Listing of publications for NanoRelease Food Additive can be found here
In addition, as of February 2017 the following are in progress:
A summary paper of what was accomplished in the 5 years of the project. In general terms, the multi-nation/stakeholder/discipline consortium approach of the NanoRelease project was useful in developing broad consensus on the state of the science for measuring what is being emitted from use of nanomaterials in commercial products. Extended discussions by leading experts over several years in consideration of methods needs and in development of specific methods was very useful in building trust across stakeholders and in identifying areas of strength and weakness in current risk management capabilities.
Through the many workshops, webinars, conference calls, and publications of the project, participants reached general agreement that much of the current research literature regarding hazard of nanomaterials does not appear to be related to what is being emitted from actual uses of nanomaterials. The fact that this agreement seems a common assumption among experts in the field now may be a result of the broad impact of the project and discussions across so many groups within it.
Furthermore, the NanoRelease Consumer Products Steering Committee and participants agreed through actions taken in the project that the first step to bridging the gap between hazard literature and understanding of exposure to nanomaterials is to agree to sampling methods that can be used to determine what materials are released to exposure pathways from uses of nanomaterials.
With nanomaterial risk management it is becoming increasingly apparent that transformations during fabrication and release from uses require the addition of an Exposure Identification step in parallel with traditional Hazard Identification step of risk assessment, preceding Hazard Assessment, Exposure Assessment, and Risk Characterization. The exposure identification step is needed to identify the possibility of exposure to the nanomaterial forms for which hazard has been identified. Nanomaterials that are put into materials used in commerce are frequently transformed by the use so that the hazard information for pristine nanomaterials is not informative to risk management of MN after use in commerce.