Grouping and Read-Across Approaches for Risk Assessment of Nanomaterials
Physicochemical properties of chemicals affect their exposure, toxicokinetics/fate and hazard, and for nanomaterials, the variation of these properties results in a wide variety of materials with potentially different risks. To limit the amount of testing for risk assessment, the information gathering process for nanomaterials needs to be efficient. At the same time, sufficient information to assess the safety of human health and the environment should be available for each nanomaterial. Grouping and read-across approaches can be utilised to meet these goals. This article presents different possible applications of grouping and read-across for nanomaterials within the broader perspective of the MARINA Risk Assessment Strategy (RAS), as developed in the EU FP7 project MARINA. Firstly, nanomaterials can be grouped based on limited variation in physicochemical properties to subsequently design an efficient testing strategy that covers the entire group. Secondly, knowledge about exposure, toxicokinetics/fate or hazard, for example via properties such as dissolution rate, aspect ratio, chemical (non-)activity, can be used to organise similar materials in generic groups to frame issues that need further attention, or potentially to read-across. Thirdly, when data related to specific endpoints is required, read-across can be considered, using data from a source material for the target nanomaterial. Read-across could be based on a scientifically sound justification that exposure, distribution to the target (fate/toxicokinetics) and hazard of the target material are similar to, or less than, the source material. These grouping and read-across approaches pave the way for better use of available information on nanomaterials and are flexible enough to allow future adaptations related to scientific developments.