Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are increasingly entering the environment with uncertain consequences including potential ecological effects. Various research communities view differently whether ecotoxicological testing of ENMs should be conducted using environmentally relevant concentrations - where observing outcomes is difficult - versus higher ENM doses, where responses are observable. What exposure conditions are typically used in assessing ENM hazards to populations? What conditions are used to test ecosystem-scale hazards? What is known regarding actual ENMs in the environment, via measurements or modeling simulations? How should exposure conditions, ENM transformation, dose, and body burden be used in interpreting biological and computational findings for assessing risks? These questions were addressed in the context of this critical review. As a result, three main recommendations emerged. First, researchers should improve ecotoxicology of ENMs by choosing test end points, duration, and study conditions - including ENM test concentrations - that align with realistic exposure scenarios. Second, testing should proceed via tiers with iterative feedback that informs experiments at other levels of biological organization. Finally, environmental realism in ENM hazard assessments should involve greater coordination among ENM quantitative analysts, exposure modelers, and ecotoxicologists, across government, industry, and academia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry