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.