The basics of toxicology are constantly being reconsidered, and the approach to risk assessment is therefore constantly being put to the test, because, as William Osler is cited in this publication, “Medicine (toxicology) is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability“.
In this recent paper, the team around Thomas Hartung (Johns-Hopkins University/University of Konstanz) has shown that for improved toxicology we should rather work with a “Probabilistic Risk Assessment” approach. This is also or especially important for new materials, because with these there are particularly often gaps in knowledge, uncertainties in risk assessment due to conflicting data and the most diverse hypotheses and strategies of the various stakeholders. In the publication, various models are presented that are applicable for this type of risk assessment and for some of which corresponding software is also available to perform calculations for the respective exposure scenarios. In the examples for this approach, a paper by Jacobs et al. (1) is also cited here, who had applied the case to silica in food. They concluded that after taking all uncertainties into account and using all available data, the margin of safety has not yet been exceeded by far using silica in various food products. In 2017, an international group of experts applied this method to Titanium dioxide in seven different exposure scenarios and concluded no increased risk to humans, as the probability of exceeding the safety limits is vanishingly small (2).
The suggested approach by Johns Hopkins University is thus a good indication to adopt this method in order to be able to make a reasonable risk assessment for new, innovative materials even in the presence of uncertaintie.
- Jacobs, R., van der Voet, H., and Ter Braak, C.J. (2015). Integrated probabilistic risk assessment for nanoparticles: the case of nanosilica in food. J Nanopart Res 17, 251
- Tsang, M.P., Hristozov, D., Zabeo, A., Koivisto, A.J., Jensen, A.C.O., Jensen, K.A., Pang, C., Marcomini, A., and Sonnemann, G. (2017). Probabilistic risk assessment of emerging materials: case study of titanium dioxide nanoparticles. Nanotoxicology 11, 558-568
Maertens, A., Golden, E., Luechtefeld, T.H., Hoffmann, S., Tsaioun, K., and Hartung, T. (2022). Probabilistic risk assessment – the keystone for the future of toxicology. ALTEX 39, 3-29
Spotlight May 2022: Nano-ghosts” – Risk assessment of submicron-sized particles in food biased towards fictional “nano”
The European Commission has issued a ban on the colorant titanium dioxide in food. Titanium dioxide, which provides a nice shine and bright white color, can potentially damage genetic material. We chose a review article from 2022 for the May 2022 Spotlight that addresses the risk assessment of food-grade titanium dioxide (E171) and the resulting […]Read more
Spotlight August 2021: Towards FAIR nanosafety data
In August we would like to present a paper on FAIR data. The paper published in Nature Nanotechnology in June 2021 summarises the challenges and provides recommendations for the efficient reuse of nanosafety data in line with the recently established FAIR guiding principles: findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. This article summarises the know-how on the […]Read more
Spotlight January 2021: Nanoplastics challenge – How to improve tracking of nanopolystyrene distribution in the environment.
In January, we present a paper published in the Nature Journal communications materials. The article focuses on the development of a new detection method of nanopolystyrene. The method not only makes it possible to detect nanoplastics in the environment for the first time, but also to determine their accumulation in plants and animals. Nanoplastics, which […]Read more
Spotlight May 2021: Towards safe and sustainable innovation in nanotechnology: State-of-play for smart nanomaterials
The European Commission’s new Action Plan for a Circular Economy Green Deal, the new European Industrial Strategy as well as the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability presented in October 2020 are ambitious plans to achieve a sustainable, fair and inclusive economy in the European Union. These strategies require that any new material or product must not […]Read more