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JRC contributes to OECD test guidelines for nanomaterials safety assessment

OECD safety test guidelines for nanomaterials
Jun 06 2019

The OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials has reviewed and developed new test guidelines and guidance since its creation in 2006. The JRC contributes actively to this work, which is important for the protection of human health and the environment.


Nanotechnology is the world of the infinitely small and one nanometre fits a billion times in a metre. While invisible to the human eye, nanomaterials are at the heart of a technological revolution.

They are used in many innovative and beneficial ways in everyday products, such as computers, phones, or sun cream. They have the potential to contribute even more benefits for society and the economy, provided that they can be safely used. The question is: how safe are nanomaterials?


Therefore, the JRC is supporting international efforts related to harmonisation/standardisation of methods to understand possible risks of nanomaterials. Scientists from the JRC are actively participating in discussions of the Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since early on.

The OECD WPNM is providing a global forum to discuss methodologies for nanomaterial safety assessment and is also important in ensuring that the concept of mutual acceptance of data applies to methods for testing nanomaterials.

As a consequence, scientists and regulators around the world can test nanomaterials applying agreed methods to identify their physical and chemical properties and their possible effects on human health and the environment.

The OECD Working Group of the National Coordinators of the Test Guidelines Programme (WNT) is responsible for the final development, discussion and adoption of TGs and JRC plays an important role as a link between WPMN and this group.


The work of the OECD WPNM regarding test guidelines has resulted in:


1.   Two test guidelines for studying respectively the possible sub-acute and sub-chronic adverse effects of inhaling nanomaterials were updated to ensure their applicability to nanomaterials. The associated guidance document to help to perform the inhalation study was also updated;


2.   A new test guideline is now available to determine the stability of dispersions of nanomaterials in the environment. It helps to understand the environment fate of nanomaterials;


3.   Four new test guidelines and five guidance documents are currently being developed. They address e.g. characterisation of nanomaterials, their possible fate in the environment or possible genotoxic effects;


4.   Six more new proposals were given the go-ahead for development in April 2019, addressing e.g. environmental fate or possible sensitisation effects;


5.   A framework and a set of guiding principles for physicochemical characterisation and measurement of nanomaterials have been adopted;


6.   Eight additional proposals for test guidelines or guidance documents addressing possible effects on human health and the environment are in discussion and preparation.

Read more in:

K. Rasmussen et al.: Developing OECD test guidelines for regulatory testing of nanomaterials to ensure mutual acceptance of test data, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 104 (2019) 74-83.

DOI: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2019.02.008