NanoImpactNet is a European Commission Framework Programme 7 (FP7) funded project that provides a forum for the discussion of current opinions on nanomaterials in relation to human and environmental issues. In September 2008. in Zurich, a NanoImpactNet environmental workshop focused on three key questions:
1. What properties should be characterised for nanomaterials used in environmental and ecotoxicology studies?
2. What reference materials should be developed for use in environmental and ecotoxicological studies?
3. Is it possible to group different nanomaterials into categories for consideration in environmental studies? Such questions have been, at least partially, addressed by other projects/workshops especially in relation to human health effects. Such projects provide a useful basis on which this workshop was based, but in this particular case these questions were reformulated in order to focus specifically on environmental studies. The workshop participants, through a series of discussion and reflection sessions, generated the conclusions listed below.
The physicochemical characterisation information identified as important for environmental studies included measures of aggregation/agglomeration/dispersability, size, dissolution (solubility), surface area, surface charge, surface chemistry/composition, with the assumption that chemical composition would already be known.
There is a need to have test materials for ecotoxicology, and several substances are potentially useful, including TiO2 nanoparticles. polystyrene beads labelled with fluorescent dyes, and silver nanoparticles. Some of these test materials could then be developed into certified reference materials over time.
No clear consensus was reached regarding the classification of nanomaterials into categories to aid environmental studies, except that a chemistry-based classification system was a reasonable starting point, with some modifications. It was suggested, that additional work may be required to derive criteria that can be used to generate such categories, that would also include aspects of the material structure and physical behaviour. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.