Friends of the Earth Australia recommends defining nanoparticles as ‘particles having one or more dimensions measuring approximately 0.3 nanometres (nm) to 300 nm, or particles which have structures that exist at this scale’ for the purposes of health and safety assessment.
Soluble nanoparticles (eg micelles, nano-liposomes and nano-encapsulated active ingredients) must be included within the definition of ‘nanoparticles’. Soluble nanoparticles must be subject to new nanotechnology-specific safety assessments and exposure metrics given the large gaps in our understanding of how their potentially far greater bioavailability, solubility and potency will influence their biological behaviour and toxicological significance (Chaudhry et al. 2008).
Agglomerates and aggregates whose primary particles are nanoscale or which possess nano-structures must also be included within the definition of ‘nanoparticles’ and subject to nanotechnology-specific risk assessment and exposure metrics. The poor understanding we have of de-agglomeration processes and the early evidence that aggregates and agglomerates may share both the surface characteristics and toxic properties of the primary nanoparticles that compose them demand that we treat these particles as nanoparticles for the purposes of health and safety assessment.
Finally, we support the recognition of ‘substances with nanomaterial properties’.
These are substances that fall outside the size range used to define ‘nanomaterials’ but which nonetheless exhibit nano-specific behaviour which warrants their assessment using safety testing procedures and metrics appropriate for nanomaterials.
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