I have three items for this piece, two about human risk assessment and nanotechnology and one questioning the drive towards safety.
Proposal for a nanotechnology and human risk assessment scheme
A couple of academics, one from the Université de Montréal (Canada) and the other from the Université de Rennes (France) have proposed what they declare is a “well-developed human risk assessment (HRA) that applies to NPs (nanoparticles).” It’s a bold statement to be found in this paper (Note: There are some oddities about this paper’s citation),
Human Risk Assessment and Its Application to
Nanotechnology: A Challenge for Assessors (PDF) by Claude Emond and Luc Multigner. 2015 J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 617 012039 http://iopscience.iop.org/1742-6596/617/1/01203
The first oddity is that the second author on the PDF version of the paper, Luc Multigner, is not listed on the paper’s page on the Journal of Physics website. where T N Britos is listed as the second author. Next, there’s the DOI (digital object identifier) which isn’t specified anywhere I can find it. There is something that looks like a DOI in the links to both the paper’s webpage and its PDF: 10.1088/1742-6596/617/1/012039.
Now on to the paper.
The authors are proposing that a methodology designed in 1983 (found in a document known as the Red Book) by the US National Research Council be adapted for use in nanotechnology human risk assessment,
… The approach divided the HRA into four different characterization steps: Source Identification Characterization (SIC), Exposure Assessment Characterization (EAC), Hazard Assessment Characterization (HAC) and Risk Assessment Characterization (RAC) [8, 9] (Figure 1).
Interspecies Variability Factors in Human Health Risk Assessment
This item comes from Lynn Bergeson’s Oct. 2, 2015 posting on Nanotechnology Now,
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) posted a new publication in its Series on the Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials, Preliminary Guidance Notes on Nanomaterials: Interspecies Variability Factors in Human Health Risk Assessment. See http://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=env/jm/mono(2015)31&doclanguage=en The report includes the following recommendations for further work:
– The Expert Opinion prepared in support of the project noted a general lack of availability of data from repeated-dose toxicity studies in different species. In particular, studies of extended duration such as 90-day subchronic or chronic toxicity studies were only available for a minor part of the analyzed nanomaterials and routes of exposures. …
– Physiologically-based models are receiving increased attention in human health risk assessment. With the available data on lung burden following inhalation exposure to nanomaterials, a useful comparison of measured vs. predicted data has been possible in this project for rats, suggesting that further refinement of the multiple path particle dosimetry (MPPD) model is required before it can be applied to (sub)chronic scenarios. Unfortunately, corresponding information has not been available for humans, preventing comparisons between rats and humans.
This document is no. 58 in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Series on the Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials. All of these documents are freely available.
Why Safety Can Be Dangerous
The third and final item in this post is an announcement for an event at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. From an Oct. 14, 2015 email,
The Science & Technology Innovation Program is proud to welcome journalist Gregory Ip to discuss his latest book, Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe (Little, Brown). In Foolproof, Ip looks at how we often force new, unexpected risks to develop in unexpected places as we seek to minimize risk from crises like financial downturns and natural disasters.
More information about the Science & Technology Innovation Program’s Public Engagement in an Age of Complexity can be found here: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/public-engagement-age-complexity
Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
10:00am – 11:00am
6th Floor Auditorium
Ronald Reagan Building and
International Trade Center
One Woodrow Wilson Plaza
1300 Pennsylvania, Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
The Foolproof event page provides more information,
In Foolproof, Ip looks at how we often force new, unexpected risks to develop in unexpected places as we seek to minimize risk from crises like financial downturns and natural disasters. This is a phenomena only likely to increase as our financial systems and cities become more complex and interconnected, but Ip concludes that these crises actually benefit society.
We’re always engaged in a balancing act between risk and safety. How we resolve that conundrum can have huge and unexpected impacts on our future.
As an example of unintended consequences, I live in a region with many forests and a very successful fire suppression programme. Risk from forest fires has been reduced at the cost of building up so much debris on the forest floor that forest fires which do occur are more devastating than if theyhad regularly diminished the debris.