Undeniable benefits of engineered nanomaterials might be discredited by their potential enhanced or unexpected toxicity arising from nano-specific properties and behavior. An analysis of the applicability of the traditional chemical risk assessment approach in nanomaterials revealed high levels of uncertainty in both hazard characterization and exposure assessment due to the lack of relevant validated methods and reliable data. This indicates the limited capability of the conventional risk assessment approach to ensure the safe use of nanomaterials. Based on the identified uncertainties, the control banding approach was proposed as a suitable tool for preliminary qualitative risk assessment of nanomaterials in occupational settings. Control banding categorizes hazard and exposure into levels referred to as bands. The combination of the hazard and exposure bands results in a risk band determining the necessary degree of control and regulatory measures. To decrease the number of cases where, based on the precautionary principle, unavailable experimental or field data would lead to the assignment to the highest hazard category requiring costly exposure control, screening evaluation of nanomaterial toxicity was proposed as an additional decision criterion. For this purpose, a battery of in vitro toxicological assays enabling screening evaluation of potential toxic effects of NMs was proposed. The assays evaluate endpoints covering basic toxic effects of substances (cytotoxicity, genotoxicity), as well as known nonspecific mechanisms of toxicity typical for nanomaterials (oxidative stress, inflammation). The proposed risk management strategy is intended to assist small and medium-sized enterprises to implement adequate measures to ensure employee safety.
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