Aligning nanotoxicology with the 3Rs: What is needed to realise the short, medium and long-term opportunities?
Nanomaterials convey numerous advantages, and the past decade has seen a considerable rise in their development and production for an expanse of applications. While the potential advantages of nanomaterials are clear, concerns over the impact of human and environmental exposure exist. Concerted, science-led efforts are required to understand the effects of nanomaterial exposure and ensure that protection goals are met. There is much on-going discussion regarding how best to assess nanomaterial risk, particularly considering the large number of tests that may be required. A plethora of forms may need to be tested for each nanomaterial, and risk assessed throughout the life cycle, meaning numerous acute and chronic toxicity studies could be required, which is neither practical nor utilises the current evidence-base. Hence, there are scientific, business, ethical and legislative drivers to re-consider the use of animal toxicity tests. An expert Working Group of regulators, academics and industry scientists were gathered by the UK's NC3Rs to discuss: i) opportunities being offered in the short, medium and long-terms to advance nanosafety, ii) how to align these advances with the application of the 3Rs in nanomaterial safety testing, and iii) shifting the focus of risk assessment from current hazard-based approaches towards exposure-driven approaches.