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Characterizing risk assessments for the development of occupational exposure limits for engineered nanomaterials
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  • Alternative Title:
    Regul Toxicol Pharmacol
  • Description:
    The commercialization of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) began in the early 2000's. Since then the number of commercial products and the number of workers potentially exposed to ENMs is growing, as is the need to evaluate and manage the potential health risks. Occupational exposure limits (OELs) have been developed for some of the first generation of ENMs. These OELs have been based on risk assessments that progressed from qualitative to quantitative as nanotoxicology data became available. In this paper, that progression is characterized. It traces OEL development through the qualitative approach of general groups of ENMs based primarily on read-across with other materials to quantitative risk assessments for nanoscale particles including titanium dioxide, carbon nanotubes and nanofibers, silver nanoparticles, and cellulose nanocrystals. These represent prototypic approaches to risk assessment and OEL development for ENMs. Such substance-by-substance efforts are not practical given the insufficient data for many ENMs that are currently being used or potentially entering commerce. Consequently, categorical approaches are emerging to group and rank ENMs by hazard and potential health risk. The strengths and limitations of these approaches are described, and future derivations and research needs are discussed. Critical needs in moving forward with understanding the health effects of the numerous EMNs include more standardized and accessible quantitative data on the toxicity and physicochemical properties of ENMs.
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