Progress towards the validation of modeled environmental concentrations of engineered nanomaterials by analytical measurements
Environmental exposure modeling has been used extensively in the last years to obtain estimates of environmental concentrations of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). In this perspective piece, we explore the issues when aiming to validate modeled environmental concentrations and propose options for both modelers and analytical chemists on how to proceed in the future to better compliment one another's efforts. In this context, validation means to determine the degree to which the simulation results from a model are accurate representations of the real world by comparison with analytical data. Therefore, for such a model validation procedure, analytical methods need to be available which provide information in the same subject area. Currently, a major issue with nanometrology is that a multitude of nanomaterials are present in natural systems but only some are ENMs; various other particles of natural origin are abundant in the same systems. The analytical tools available are not yet capable to distinguish the natural from engineered nanomaterials at the low ENM concentrations expected in complex environmental matrices. However, both modeling and analytical studies are able to provide an orthogonal view on nanomaterials: modeling is able to yield estimates of the presence of ENMs in various environmental compartments while analytics can provide physical characterization of ENMs in these systems with hints towards the total nanomaterial concentration. While we need to make strides to improve the two approaches separately, using the resulting data together in a mutually supportive way will advance the field of ENM risk assessment.