Nanomaterials: Certain aspects of application, risk assessment and risk communication
Development and market introduction of new nanomaterials trigger the need for an adequate risk assessment of such products alongside suitable risk communication measures. Current application of classical and new nanomaterials is analyzed in context of regulatory requirements and standardization for chemicals, food and consumer products. The challenges of nanomaterial characterization as the main bottleneck of risk assessment and regulation are presented. In some areas, e.g., quantification of nanomaterials within complex matrices, the establishment and adaptation of analytical techniques such as laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and others are potentially suited to meet the requirements. As an example, we here provide an approach for the reliable characterization of human exposure to nanomaterials resulting from food packaging. Furthermore, results of nanomaterial toxicity and ecotoxicity testing are discussed, with concluding key criteria such as solubility and fiber rigidity as important parameters to be considered in material development and regulation. Although an analysis of the public opinion has revealed a distinguished rating depending on the particular field of application, a rather positive perception of nanotechnology could be ascertained for the German public in general. An improvement of material characterization in both toxicological testing as well as end-product control was concluded as being the main obstacle to ensure not only safe use of materials, but also wide acceptance of this and any novel technology in the general public.