TABLE 3-1 Summary of Critical Research Questions


What types of ENMs are of the highest priority with regards to nano-EHS research?

What are the maximum anticipated amounts of ENMs to which workers, consumers, and ecosystems could be exposed?

How might concentrations of ENMs from different sources apportion themselves in workplace, consumer, and various environmental compartments?

How can ENMs be detected in air, in water, and in complex media, to allow real-time monitoring of ENM sources of exposures?

Modifications and Exposures

Human Health

What conditions will cause ENMs in the gas phase, in liquids, or embedded in solids to become airborne?

What is the ability of certain ENMs (for example, photoactive materials) to persist on skin after application and what are the potential effects?

What types of ENMs can survive the gastrointestinal tract? Do they assimilate intact into the organism?

What are the nature and implications of biomolecular modifications of ENMs?

Ecosystem Health

Under what conditions will ENMs aggregate or disaggregate in relevant environmental media?

How stable are the coatings of ENMs? How does this relate to ENM aggregation and fate?

How rapidly do ENMs dissolve in various relevant environmental media?

What properties of ENMs promote attachment to environmentally relevant surfaces?

How can the fate and transport of ENMs in the environment be fully described and modeled?

Dose, Biodistribution, and Bioavailability

Human Health

What is the most appropriate metric to describe ENM dose?

How does applied dose (for example, dermal, ingestion or inhalation) translate into bioavailability?

Can dosimetric extrapolations between organisms be used to validate in-vitro and in-vivo studies?

What are the most valid quantitative biokinetic models that relate ENM properties to their distribution in organisms, organs, and tissues?

Ecosystem Health

What factors control the distribution of ENMs into biologic compartments in the environment?

How can the environmental dose to an organism be related to bioavailability?

Can ENMs bioaccumulate and to what extent? If so, what properties are most critical for bioaccumulation?


Human Health

What biologic effects occur at realistic ENM doses and dose rates? How do ENM properties influence these effects?

How can in-vitro assays be developed and validated so that results are relevant to in-vivo exposures?

How do ENM properties influence toxicologic mechanisms of action?

Ecosystem Health

How can toxicity mechanisms for ENMs be better understood?

How can community and ecosystem level effects be anticipated from single organism tests?

How do properties of ENMs (and their transformations) influence community structure and ecosystem function?

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