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Nano-Safety Research Group

Specialists in the assessment of nanomaterial toxicity to human health and the environment


NANoREG – A common European approach to the regulatory testing of Manufactured Nanomaterials

Staff: Vicki Stone, Teresa Fernandes, Helinor Johnston

Project Website:

Funding for HW contribution to project: Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Project Aim:

The innovative and economic potential of NanoMaterials (NMs) is threatened by a limited understanding of the related EHS (Environmental Health and Safety) issues. While toxicity data is continuously becoming available, the relevance to regulators is often unclear or unproven. The shrinking time to market of new NM drives the need for urgent action by regulators. NANoREG is the first FP7 project to deliver the answers needed by regulators and legislators on EHS by linking them to a scientific evaluation of data and test methods.Based on questions and requirements supplied by regulators and legislators, NANoREG will: (i) provide answers and solutions from existing data, complemented with new knowledge, (ii) Provide a tool box of relevant instruments for risk assessment, characterisation, toxicity testing and exposure measurements of nanomaterials , (iii) develop, for the long term, new testing strategies adapted to innovation requirements, (iv) Establish a close collaboration among authorities, industry and science leading to efficient and practically applicable risk management approaches for NMs and products containing NMs.

The interdisciplinary approach involving the three main stakeholders (Regulation, Industry and Science) will significantly contribute to reducing the risks from NMs in industrial and consumer products.

Our contribution to the project: Heriot-Watt University (HWU) will provide specific input into two of the project work packages (WP), and our involvement in the project is described in more detail below.

WP 4. Biokinetics and toxicity testing in vivo. The aim of this WP is to study experimentally hypotheses on the mode of action of selected nanomaterials. At HWU we will address the development and refinement of standard (OECD) protocols/guidelines for aquatic species.  We will liaise with, and complement the work of, other partners within this WP4, particularly concentrating on Lumbriculus variegatus, an OECD test species currently not covered in the work programme, using the NANoREG priority MNMs. We are currently undertaking work on this species (as well as others) as part of the FP7 project Marina and the obvious links between these projects will contribute an added value that will benefit the project outcomes.HW will also provide input into the work of other partners in relation to other species, such as D. magna and  P. subcapitata. We will contribute to WP4 objectives and have particular interest in the verification of toxicity and grouping approaches for relevant NM in aquatic systems, a key objective of this WP.

WP5  Advancement of Regulatory Risk Assessment and Testing. HWU will provide input into work relating to the development of read-across criteria (D5.1), high-throughput testing strategies (D5.7), especially in relation to the outputs and research strategy developed in the project ITS-NANO.  HWU will also provide input into the development of QSAR type approaches (Leeds) by providing input into the QSAR analysis design and provision of access to relevant data (e.g. ENPRA).