Scope of the symposium

Our understanding of the environmental fate and the ecotoxicity of engineered nanoparticles and nanomaterials (ENP&EMP) has increased dramatically over the last decade, but the science can still be considered to be in its infancy. The consequence thereof is that there is still a considerable gap to bridge between the current state of science and the scientific support needed to take up the challenges in the regulatory area of nanomaterials.

Much research, including several major EU framework 6 and 7 projects, has focussed on the impacts of nano-specific properties (particularly size) on fate and effects in aquatic environments. This advance has been driven mainly by the development of several methods for characterizing both ENPs and ENMs in aquatic media. However, much less information is available for solid media such as soils, sediments and landfills, compartments that can be considered as sinks for ENPs and ENMs. Further, the available pool of methods for characterising ENP and ENM fate and effects in solid media is much more limited and is often based on indirect measurements that are very susceptible to artefacts. The development of robust and reproducible methods to assess the fate and ecotoxicity of ENPs and ENMs in the environment is critical if we are to accurately predict risks to the environment at the species, community, and ecosystem level.

The scope of this symposium is therefore to bring together different stakeholders to discuss current and future research needs, addressing the potential of ENPs and ENMs to bioaccumulate and to reach concentrations of concern in terms of environmental exposure, and to formulate approaches to integrate this knowledge into regulatory risk assessment.