Report and external Coverage on NIA Symposium on Grouping and Read-Across now Available

NIA has released its report on the ‘Symposium on Grouping and Read-Across’ that it held on 26 November 2013 in Brussels, Belgium. The report has been made available as part of the Association’s preparation for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Categorisation Workshop, which will be held in Arlington, USA, between the 17 and 19 September 2014.

The symposium centred on addressing a key issue of the 2011 European Commission (EC) Recommendation on the Definition of Nanomaterial, which is that it categorised an estimated 50% of all commercially-used materials as ‘nanomaterials’. In order to improve this situation, the stakeholder groups most responsible for the implementation of characterisation and testing of nanomaterials began urging a move away from the currently recommended case-by-case approach to a more efficient and sustainable system; one of the systems proposed to tackle the problem is that of grouping and read-across. In order to determine whether this system should be adopted or not, several questions had to be addressed:

  • How can nanomaterials be ‘grouped’ or ‘categorised’ so as to:
    • Reduce the number of measurements and tests that need to be performed?
    • Allow for a ‘safety-by-design’ approach? And
    • Identify the relevant Substance Identity (SID)?
  • Which parameters play a role in the grouping of nanomaterials? (i.e. physico-chemical characteristics, hazard profiles, bioavailability, etc.)?
  • How can ‘read-across’ from the bulk form of a material be applied to a nanomaterial of the same chemical composition (and vice versa)?

NIA’s symposium looked to address these issues, and in order to do so it invited several external speakers to present and discuss their institution’s point-of-view on the topics. Invited speakers included:

  • Andrej Kobe, European Commission, Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV)
  • Dr Wim de Coen, European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)
  • Dr Yasir Sultan and Brad Fisher, Environment Canada
  • Dr Tracy Williamson, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

A number of articles on the proceedings of the meeting were published by external news agencies; one of these in particular stood out, as it contained quotes from the NGO Center for International Environmental Law (Ciel). The spokesperson expressed that his organisation has “many concerns regarding the use of grouping and read-across for nanomaterials”. He considered the discussion on grouping and read-across of nanomaterials to be “premature”, as “in order to do grouping, you need a solid amount of data on a definite number of substances […] but we don’t have the basic knowledge about nanomaterials that would allow us to do that”. The head of the OECD’s nanosafety programme also noted that “it is early days” for the topic; nevertheless he considers it to be “important”, and welcomed the work that was being done by NIA, as these are “not easy topics” to address.

 

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