New guidelines to standardise toxicity testing of nanomaterials
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has published methods that are specifically designed to assess the toxicity and environmental impacts of nanoparticles.
Three new test guidelines have been produced by the OECD’s working party on manufactured nanomaterials, which was formed in 2006. Two describe inhalation toxicity studies that can be done on rodents over 28 days or 90 days, and the other details ways to measure the dispersal of nanoparticles in the environment.
David Carlander, Director of Regulatory Affairs at the Nanotechnologies Industry Association, says the guidelines are ‘very valuable’ and will be welcomed by industry. ‘All these guidelines fall under a mutual acceptance of data agreement among member states [of the OECD], so if you have done the test in one of those states you can use that data in various jurisdictions throughout the world.’ He explained that both the inhalation toxicity guidelines are essentially minor updates to tests that are already used on other substances.
In the past there have been calls for nanomaterials to be governed by separate regulations, but although some countries have set up national registers or reporting schemes, they are treated similarly to non-nanoscale materials in most countries. In Europe, for example, they are currently covered by the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (Reach) regulation.
Whether or not there is a strong appetite for more specific regulations around nanoparticles, the key to ensuring their safe and responsible use is to optimise the methods by which they are tested.