Author(s): Seaton A, Tran L, Aitken R, Donaldson K
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Abstract New developments in technology usually entail some hazard as well as advantage to a society. Hazard of a material translates into risk by exposure of humans and/or their environment to the agent in question, and risk is reduced by control of exposure, usually guided by regulation based on understanding of the mechanisms of harm. We illustrate risks relating to the causation of diseases associated with exposure to aerosols of combustion particles and asbestos, leading to paradigms of particle toxicity, and discuss analogies with potential exposure to manufactured nanoparticles (NPs). We review the current understanding of the hazard of NPs derived from the new science of nanotoxicology and the limited research to date into human exposure to these particles. We identify gaps in knowledge relating to the properties of NPs that might determine toxicity and in understanding the most appropriate ways both to measure this in the laboratory and to assess it in the workplace. Nevertheless, we point out that physical principles governing the behaviour of such particles allow determination of practical methods of protecting those potentially exposed. Finally, we discuss the early steps towards regulation and the difficulties facing regulators in controlling potentially harmful exposures in the absence of sufficient scientific evidence.
This article was published in J R Soc Interface
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy