An integrated approach to testing and assessment (IATA) to support grouping and read-across of nanomaterials in aquatic systems

Richard K. Cross, Dave Spurgeon, Claus Svendsen, Elmer Lahive, Simon Little, Frank von der Kammer, Frederic Loosli, Marianne Matzke, Teresa F. Fernandes, Vicki Stone, Willie J. G. M. Peijnenburg, Eric A. J. Bleeker

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Even small changes in physicochemical properties of nanoforms (NFs), can drive differences in their environmental fate and hazard. The large number of new materials being developed means it will not be feasible to test and characterise the fate, behaviour and (eco)toxicity of each individual NF. This is further amplified by transformations of NFs over their lifecycle, changing the processes governing their risk. A common complexity arises from dissolution, where the combined toxicity of the exposure arises from both the solutes and any remaining particles contribution to the overall toxicity of the exposure. For efficient and effective risk assessment, it is the most relevant form of the NF for a given exposure that should be targeted for testing and assessment. In aquatic systems, functional fate processes (including dissolution, dispersion stability and chemical and biological transformations) determine the NF’s exposure relevant form. Whilst transformations in the environment alter the initial properties of an NF, different NFs may follow a shared functional fate pathway and ultimately present a similar fate and hazard profile in the environment. Therefore, these processes may be used to scientifically justify grouping NFs and read-across for specific endpoints from data rich NF(s) to verified members of the group that have not been tested yet. Integrated Approaches to Testing and Assessment (IATA) have been used in other regulatory contexts to support the collection and integration of relevant existing information as well as the targeted generation of new data to support grouping and read-across. Here, a new IATA is presented consisting of decision nodes focused on dissolution, dispersion stability, chemical transformations and the relative contribution to toxicity of the particle and dissolved component of the overall exposure. The IATA focuses on the fate of NFs in aquatic systems outside of the body, but it can be considered a template for future assessment of in vivo kinetics, which will require further development. Guidance on tiered testing approaches and thresholds for grouping within each decision node are critically discussed. Worked examples for ecotoxicity of metal oxide NFs in aqueous systems (in microbial communities isolated from soils and for lettuce plants in hydroponic systems) demonstrate successful identification of the exposure relevant form of the NF in these case studies and allows for different grouping of NFs through application of the IATA.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102065
JournalNano Today
Early online date25 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • Toxicity
  • Environment
  • IATA
  • Nanomaterial
  • Grouping
  • Read-across

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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