Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials: Opportunities and Risk Trade-offs

Wednesday 19th May 2021, 14:00 - 16:30 GMT

Events

Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials

Wednesday 19th May 2021

14:00 - 16:30 GMT

Igor Linkov

Personal Reflection on 20yrs of Nano Risk Assessment and Relevance to Emerging Risks

Vicki Stone

A Framework to streamline nanomaterial innovation and risk assessment – The GRACIOUS project

Sex Robots

Date TBC

Time TBC

Quantum Computing

Date TBC

Time TBC

Evan Peet

Securing Communications in the Quantum Computing Age: Managing the Risks to Encryption

Nanotechnology

Invisible particles that fight cancer cells. Faster microprocessors that consume less energy. Batteries that last much longer. Making solar panels cheaper and more efficient. These are just some of the many applications of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials, the name given to production or use of very small ‘nano’ particles. This is becoming a rapidly growing fields of potential applications from electronics to food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The present and future applications of nanotechnologies reveal many opportunities with the potential to transform tomorrow’s world with a universe of new possibilities. Before we begin to further integrate them into other industries and our daily lives, we must question the potential effects and risks. Their effects on worker’s health, communities as well as on the environment, are largely unknown. Toxicity, lung damage and air pollution issues are some examples that been subject of discussion among researchers and policy makers. We look forward to exploring further into this matter with these two experts.

Personal Reflection on 20yrs of Nano Risk Assessment and Relevance to Emerging Risks

Dr. Igor Linkov, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center

Over the last 20 years, Nanotechnology’s lingering uncertainty has presented a challenge to regulators and developers aiming to ensure that no unacceptable hazards are permitted to gain exposure to humans, animals, or the environment. This challenge is typically addressed through risk assessment, where hazards are analyzed and exposure pathways are characterized in an objective and data-driven manner. However, many engineered nanomaterials still retain uncertain physical, chemical, or biological properties that make risk assessment difficult or even prohibitive, whereby existing testing protocols and indicators may not account for the various environmental health and safety risks that such novel technologies pose. This resulted in current focus on Risk Governance, which involves creating a rational process that balances material risks alongside societal benefits and concerns and establishing appropriate governance authorities. Despite of all of these efforts, are we any closer to answering the questions we had 20 years ago? How our experience in Nano risk assessment and management relates to other emerging risks, both in new technologies (e.g., synthetic biology) and other fields (e.g., cybersecurity, pandemics). I will try to connect developments in the field of Nano risk assessment and management with changes in my own mindset and advice on strategies that I provide as a consultant, public servant and academic.

Igor Linkov

Dr. Igor Linkov is Senior Science and Technology Manager with the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), and Adjunct Professor with Carnegie Mellon University. He is responsible for ERDC’s project portfolio in the areas of crises management and resilience. He develops methods and tools for measuring resilience in interconnected network and applies these tools to critical infrastructure, transportation, energy and cyber systems, supply chains and currently to manage response and recovery following COVID pandemic. He was part of several Interagency Committees and Working Groups tasked with developing resilience metrics and resilience management approaches, including the US Army Corps of Engineers Resilience Roadmap, Secretary of Deference Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, and OSD Cyber Resilience Technical Committee. He is Army representative at the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) and Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program. Dr. Linkov is a member of Transportation Research Board’s “Transportation, Sustainability and Resilience” committee. He has organized more than thirty national and international conferences and continuing education workshops, including over twenty NATO events. He has published widely on environmental and technology policy, climate change, and risk and resilience analytics, including twenty five books and over 400 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters in top journals, like Nature, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Climate Change, among others. Dr. Linkov is Elected Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Society for Risk Analysis and received multiple awards for his scientific achievements from the Army and other organizations. Dr. Linkov has a B.S. and M.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics (Polytechnic Institute) and a Ph.D. in Environmental, Occupational and Radiation Health (University of Pittsburgh). He completed his postdoctoral training in Risk Assessment at Harvard University.

A Framework to streamline nanomaterial innovation and risk assessment – The GRACIOUS project

Professor Vicki Stone, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

Nanomaterials exist in a variety of nanoforms for use in a wide variety of products. Assessing their potential risks on a case by case basis is not financially or ethically viable, and would take too long. The GRACIOUS project has generated a Framework to facilitate grouping and read-across of nanoforms, to support innovation and streamline risk assessment.
The Framework consists of two steps.
The initial basic information step includes the purpose of grouping (e.g. risk assessment or innovation), physicochemical properties (e.g. size, shape, composition, surface coating), plus uses/ potential releases of the nanoform(s) (to inform routes of exposure and environmental compartments).
The basic information step feeds into the second detailed step where a hypothesis is triggered. This hypothesis explains the logic for grouping specific NFs. The Framework contains 40 pre-defined hypotheses covering inhalation, ingestion and dermal exposure for humans, as well as aquatic, sediment, soil and air for the environment.
Integrated Approaches to Testing and Assessment (IATAs) are used to acquire the most relevant information needed to accept, modify or reject the hypothesis. Each decision node of the IATA is supported by a tiered strategy of existing data, physicochemical, in silico, in vitro and in vivo methods. The outputs of the IATA are collated in a data matrix allowing assessment of similarity for each endpoint and collation of the evidence to support the grouping decision. Similarity can be assessed in a qualitative manner during product innovation, or in a quantitative manner for regulatory purposes. Once the members of the group are identified as sufficiently similar then grouping then allows identification of source materials to fill data gaps for target nanoforms via read-across.
The GRACIOUS Framework is available as a Guidance Document and as a software blueprint, both of which are now being tested.
Acknowledgement – GRACIOUS is funded by the European Commission, Grant Agreement 760840.

Igor Linkov

Vicki Stone is Director of the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK. Vicki is also an Honorary Principal Scientist at the Institute of Occupational Medicine. Vicki is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Royal Society of Biology and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She was the holder of the Royal Society of Chemistry Toxicology Award (2015-16) and the Editor-in-chief of the journal Nanotoxicology (http://informalhealthcare.com/nan) for 6 years (2006-2011). Vicki has also published over 180 publications pertaining to particle toxicology over the last 25 years and is recognised by Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters) as one of the top 1% of all researchers in the world for the most cited publications in the field of Pharmacology and Toxicology.
Vicki is currently a partner in three EU funded projects www.h2020gracious.eu (as coordinator), https://www.patrols-h2020.eu/ and https://www.biorima.eu/.