There is an exciting and promising project underway that is being coordinated by the Research Foundation of the International Life Science Institute (ILSI-RF) called the NanoRelease Project. The Project is described below both to share information broadly about the Project's existence and to seek additional support for this worthwhile initiative.
Overview of the Project
The NanoRelease Project is intended to identify available methods for the evaluation of the release of nanomaterials from various matrices, to identify gaps where new methods are needed, and eventually to fill gaps by testing and evaluating select methods. As explained below, a concerted effort to achieve these goals is badly needed.
Most nano stakeholders would agree that the research literature is rich with studies assessing the hazards of nanomaterials. The research literature is less populated with studies addressing exposure to nanoscale materials. The paucity of reliable and well defined exposure information and data challenges stakeholders' ability to identify and understand potential risk opportunities. The ILSI NanoRelease Project is intended to address the exposure side of the risk equation by facilitating the understanding of methods to evaluate the release of nanomaterials from matrices.
Specifically, the NanoRelease Project endeavors to assemble a broad set of stakeholders; collect information about existing methods; assess the utility and reliability of these methods as applied to nanoscale materials; identify gaps in methods and how to fill the gaps; initiate gap filling projects; and, importantly, make the results available broadly.
The Steering Committee is made up of a diverse spectrum of stakeholders, including representatives from industry (representing member companies of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the Society of Chemical Manufactures and Affiliates (SOCMA), and others); the U.S. Government (EPA, OSHA, NIOSH, CPSC, NIST); the Canadian Government (Environment Canada, Health Canada); NGOs (Consumers' Union, Conservation Law Foundation); and Labor (AFL-CIO).
The Steering Committee has agreed that while there are many different combinations of materials and matrices that could be addressed, to be successful, the scope has to be narrowed. The Committee has chosen 'solids' (including coatings) as the first type of matrix to be assessed and is presently engaged in determining which nanomaterials will be selected. Based on these selections, model matrices will be developed that will be subjected to the available release evaluation methods.
A key measure of success will be the identification of broadly accepted methods for stakeholders to use in the evaluation of real world matrices. Key benefits will include the ability to evaluate and compare releases of nanomaterials from matrices in the marketplace and speeding the development of new products by virtue of having broadly accepted evaluation methods. Such methods will also facilitate the appropriate calibration of any needed risk management measures in occupational, consumer, and environmental contexts.
Although the project is underway, funds are still being raised. Commitments for funds have been made by ACC, SOCMA, American Cleaning Institute, Adhesive and Sealant Council, EPA, and Environment Canada. The Project is in Phase 1, and the Steering Committee has started to plan for funding Phase 2 of the Project.