Advances in cutting-edge technologies such as nano- and biotechnology have created an opportunity for re-engineering existing materials and generating new nano-scale products that can function beyond the limits of conventional ones. While the step change in the properties and functionalities of these new materials opens up new possibilities for a broad range of applications, it also calls for structural modifications to existing safety assessment processes that are primarily focused on bulk material properties. Decades after the need to modify existing risk management practices to include nano-specific behaviors and exposure pathways was recognized, relevant policies for evaluating, and controlling health risks of nano-enabled materials is still lacking. This review provides an overview of current progress in the field of nanobiotechnology rather than intentions and aspirations, summarizes long-recognized but still unresolved issues surrounding materials safety at the nanoscale, and discusses key barriers preventing generation and integration of reliable data in bio/nano-safety domain. Particular attention is given to nanostructured materials that are commonly used in biomedical applications.
- hazard assessment
- risk management