Quantifying Exposure to Engineered Nanomaterials (QEEN) from Manufactured Products – Addressing Environmental, Health, and Safety Implications

Subject Area:
NNI Publications and Reports
NNI Workshop Reports
EHS-related Documents
Publication Date: Mar. 28 2016


This report on Quantifying Exposure to Engineered Nanomaterials (QEEN) from Manufactured Products – Addressing Environmental, Health, and Safety Implications is the result of a technical workshop sponsored by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and co-hosted by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) on July 7 and 8, 2015, in Arlington, VA. The main goals for the workshop were to (1) assess progress in developing tools and methods for quantifying exposure to engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) across the product life cycle, and (2) to identify new research needed to advance nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety exposure assessment for nanotechnology-enabled products. The workshop included an overview of the field by exposure science experts as well as technical sessions highlighting current research on quantifying exposure at different stages of the product life cycle and in different product media and environments. It also included a poster session and several roundtable discussions organized to help participants better understand the challenges and accomplishments thus far in exposure science.

This report summarizes the presentations and discussions of over 200 participants from the exposure science community regarding progress during the last decade in quantifying ENM exposures. Current gaps in characterization tools and techniques are identified and discussed, along with exposure assessment methodologies, and simulation and modeling tools. Finally, the report suggests a path forward that will help bridge exposure science with toxicology and ultimately benefit data-based risk assessment and risk-based decision making for nanotechnology-enabled products.

Nanotechnology Fact

Nanoscale materials have been used for over a thousand years. For example, nanoscale gold was used in stained glass in Medieval Europe and nanotubes were found in blades of swords made in Damascus. However, ten centuries passed before high-powered microscopes were invented, allowing us to see things at the nanoscale and begin working with these materials.

Nanotechnology as we now know it began more than 30 years ago, when tools to image and measure at the nanoscale became available. Around the turn of the century, government research managers in the United States and other countries observed that physicists, biologists, chemists, electrical engineers, optical engineers, and materials scientists were working on interconnected, multidisciplinary issues emerging at the nanoscale. In 2000, the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) was created to help these researchers benefit from each other’s insights, accelerate technology development, and foster commercialization across disciplines.

To learn more, see What is Nanotechnology?

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