Testing Method to Assess Safety Risks

Photo: Smog over New York

The ability of nanotechnology to interact with biological materials leads to the possibility that they may be harmful to humans and the environment. Recognizing a need to develop a rational, science-based approach to nanotoxicology, Dr. Andre Nel, Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) and his team have developed a new testing method to assess the safety and health risks of engineered nanomaterials.

That model is based on toxicity testing for occupational and air pollution particles, which include nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are the most toxic ingredient in these environmental pollutants. Nel's model predicts toxicity according to the ability of some nanoparticles to generate toxic oxygen radicals, which are highly reactive forms of oxygen that can cause tissue injury, including inflammation and other toxic effects. For air pollution particles, this injury can translate into asthma and atherosclerotic heart disease.

Using this model, Nel's laboratory has developed a series of tests to assess nanoparticle toxicity in non-biological environments as well as in tissue cultures and animal models. "We can use the strong scientific foundation of air pollution particle testing to help understand the health impact of engineered nanoparticles and ensure safe manufacturing of nanoproducts," said Nel.

A review in the journal Science addresses questions about occupational and inhalation exposures to nanoparticles and outlines the properties of nanomaterials that need to be considered for toxicity testing. The three key elements of the toxicity screening strategy should include the physical and chemical characterization of nanomaterials, tissue cellular assays and animal studies.

COMPAMED.de; Source: University of California - Los Angeles