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Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray (Final Report)

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EPA is announcing the availability of this final report, Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray. To learn more about the research done on nanomaterials, visit http://www.epa.gov/ncea/nano.

Report Information

This final report presents a case study of engineered nanoscale silver (nano-Ag), focusing on the specific example of nano-Ag as possibly used in disinfectant sprays. This case study is organized around the comprehensive environmental assessment (CEA) framework, which structures available information pertaining to the product life cycle, environmental transport and fate, exposure-dose in receptors (i.e., humans, ecological populations, and the environment), and potential impacts in these receptors. The document does not draw conclusions about potential risks. Instead, it is intended to be used as part of a process to identify what is known and unknown about nano-Ag in a selected application. In turn, the external review draft of the document provided a starting point to identify and prioritize possible research directions to support future assessments of nanomaterials.

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Christy Powers
  • by phone at:   919-541-5504
  • by fax at:   919-541-5078
  • by email at:  powers.christina@epa.gov

Background

Cover of the Nanoscale Silver Final report Engineered nanoscale materials (nanomaterials) have been described as having at least one dimension between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm). They often have novel or unique properties that can arise from their small size. Like all technological developments, nanomaterials offer the potential for both benefits and risks. The assessment of such risks and benefits requires information, but given the nascent state of nanotechnology, much remains to be learned about the characteristics and effects of nanomaterials. The document "Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray" is intended to be used as part of a process to identify what is known and, more importantly, what is not yet known that could be of value in assessing the broad implications of certain nanomaterials. The complex properties of various nanomaterials make evaluating them in the abstract or with generalizations difficult if not impossible. Thus, this document focuses on a specific example of nano-Ag in disinfectant spray products.

This case study does not represent a completed or even a preliminary assessment of nano-Ag; rather, it and other, similar case studies (see Related Links below) support research planning efforts for nanomaterials. The document is organized around the comprehensive environmental assessment (CEA) framework, which structures available information pertaining to the product life cycle, transport, transformation and fate processes in environmental media, exposure-dose in receptors (i.e., humans, ecological populations, and the environment), and potential impacts in these receptors. When information is available, it also includes other direct and indirect ramifications of both primary and secondary substances or stressors associated with a nanomaterial. The CEA approach is both a framework and a process; the external review draft of the document supported the latter aspect, which engaged stakeholders from diverse technical (e.g., toxicology, exposure science, atmospheric chemistry) and sector (e.g., industry, government, academia) backgrounds. Through a structured collective judgment method these expert stakeholders used the document to identify and prioritize research gaps that could inform future assessments and risk management efforts. Some of these research gaps pertain to nano-Ag in disinfectant spray; others to nano-Ag irrespective of its application, while still others may apply more widely to nanomaterials in general (see "Summary Report" under Jan 2011 in History/ Chronology below). These and other research gaps identified through similar applications of CEA to nanomaterials are intended to inform ongoing research planning for nanotechnology in the general scientific community as well as at the EPA.

History/Chronology

Feb 2007EPA’s Nanotechnology White Paper recommends the development of case studies to identify unique risk assessment considerations and research needed to support risk assessment efforts for nanomaterials.
Jul 2009EPA released "Nanomaterial Case Studies: Nanoscale Titanium Dioxide in Water Treatment and in Topical Sunscreen (External Review Draft)" for public review and comment.
Sep 2009EPA initiates the "Nanomaterial Case Studies Workshop: Developing a Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Research Strategy for Nanoscale Titanium Dioxide" under auspices of the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors (invitation only) to identify and prioritize research needs for titanium dioxide, using the nanoscale titanium dioxide case studies and a structured collective judgment process.
May 2010EPA released the report, "Workshop Summary for the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors, Nanomaterial Case Studies Workshop: Developing a Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Research Strategy for Nanoscale Titanium Dioxide."
May 2010EPA conducted a peer review for "Nanomaterial Case Studies: Nanoscale Titanium Dioxide in Water Treatment and in Topical Sunscreen."
Apr 2010EPA conducted an internal review of the "Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray" draft report.
Jul 2010EPA conducted an interagency review of the "Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray."
Aug 2010EPA released an external review draft for public review and comments. [Federal Register Aug 13, 2010]
Nov 2010EPA released the final report, "Nanomaterial Case Studies: Nanoscale Titanium Dioxide in Water Treatment and in Topical Sunscreen."
Dec 2010EPA announced a public meeting to review and discuss the EPA Nanomaterial Case Studies reports. [Federal Register Dec 13, 2010]
Jan 2011A workshop funded by EPA and conducted independently by ICF International, an EPA contractor, was held in Research Triangle Park, NC on January 4-7, 2011. The purpose of the workshop was to identify and prioritize research questions related to nanoscale silver based on the external review draft of the Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray document. A  summary report is available that describes the workshop and its outcomes (PDF).
Aug 2012EPA released the final report, "Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray."

Citation

U.S. EPA. Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray (Final Report). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-10/081F, 2012.

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