The nanoGRAVUR framework to group (nano)materials for their occupational, consumer, environmental risks based on a harmonized set of material properties, applied to 34 case studies†
The project nanoGRAVUR (BMBF, 2015–2018) developed a framework for grouping of nanomaterials. Different groups may result for each of the three distinct perspectives of occupational, consumer and environmental safety. The properties, methods and descriptors are harmonised between the three perspectives and are based on: Tier 1 intrinsic physico-chemical properties (what they are) or GHS classification of the non-nano-form (human tox, ecotox, physical hazards); Tier 2 extrinsic physico-chemical properties, release from nano-enabled products, in vitro assays with cells (where they go; what they do); Tier 3 case-specific tests, potentially in vivo studies to substantiate the similarity within groups or application-specific exposure testing. Amongst all properties, dissolution and transformation are least modulated by different nanoforms within one substance, whereas dustiness, dispersion stability, abiotic and especially in vitro surface reactivity vary more often between different nanoforms. The methods developed or selected by nanoGRAVUR fill several gaps highlighted in the ProSafe reviews, and are useful to implement (i) the concept of nanoforms of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and (ii) the concept of discrete forms of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One cannot assess the significance of a dissimilarity, if the dynamic range of that property is unknown. Benchmark materials span dynamic ranges that enable us to establish bands, often with order-of-magnitude ranges. In 34 case studies we observed high biological similarity within each substance when we compared different (nano)forms of SiO2, BaSO4, kaolin, CeO2, ZnO, organic pigments, especially when we compared forms that are all untreated on the surface. In contrast, different Fe2O3 or TiO2 (nano)forms differ more significantly. The same nanoforms were also integrated in nano-enabled products (NEPs) for automotive coatings, clinker-reduced cements, cosmetic sunscreen, and lightweight polymers.