SRA Emerging Nanoscale Materials Specialty Group Announces Workshop

The Nanoscale Risk Analysis II Workshop on September 15-16, 2014, in Washington DC will explore how a multiple models approach can advance risk analysis of nanoscale materials. 

The complete text of the group's announcement follows:

Save the Date! The Emerging Nanoscale Materials Specialty Group (ENMSG) of the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) is organizing a workshop to investigate the use of alternative testing strategies (ATS) for exposure and risk analyses of nanoscale materials. The workshop will convene a diverse group of international experts to discuss how current and evolving in vitro assays might be applied in a “multiple models” approach to inform risk assessments of novel nanoscale materials, including assessing hazard, potency and exposure potential. This effort builds on the first SRA Nano Risk Analysis workshop (held in 2008 at George Washington University) and other recent expert meetings, by examining the availability and applicability of novel ATS methods for a multiple-models approach to toxicity, environmental and exposure analyses of emerging nanoscale materials (ENM) in the risk analysis paradigm.  

The Nano Risk Analysis II workshop seeks to elaborate shared strengths and gaps in support of weight-of-evidence (WOE) methods that rely on ATS to inform context-specific assessment and management decisions for novel nanoscale materials.  The goal is to inform the development of guidance for using ATS in hazard characterization and risk assessment for those decisions.

Save the date – online registration opens soon (

If you would like to present work on ATS and approaches for assessing exposures and risks of nanoscale materials, you are invited to submit an abstract for a poster presentation at the Nano Risk Analysis II workshop in Washington D.C. on September 15.  This poster session provides an opportunity to share your research with experts from around the globe in nanomaterial risk analysis and regulation. Suitable topics for poster presentations include: research on high-throughput techniques, in vitro cell‑based and cell‑free assays, WOE or strength-of-evidence approaches to assessing exposure and risk, decision-analytic approaches, regulatory approaches, and challenges to applying ATS for nanoscale materials. We are open to a range of themes related to ATS, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about your topic.

Submit your poster abstract online at:

Background and Workshop Details

ATS approaches are regarded by many as having the potential to rapidly screen large numbers and types of materials. Their emergence raises questions about how results of these approaches might be used to assess potential ENM risk, specifically how ATS could be used in read-across efforts that aim to predict impacts based on comparative assessments of physical and chemical property data and to assess potential human toxicity, exposure, and environmental impacts.  This work focuses specifically on assessing the potential for a multiple-models approach to improve the collective evidence, reduce uncertainty, and inform risk-based decision making for ENM, at least at the screening level. 

The field of risk analysis for ENM is by nature one in which data, methods and policies are developing in parallel to address the unique aspects of nanotechnology and nanomaterials. Data on ENM hazards and exposures are developing at an accelerating rate as the number of ENM types and applications continues to expand. Yet, the use of ENM hazard and exposure data in risk analyses is hindered by uncertainty about the methods used to generate the data. For instance, some assays used to screen chemicals are not reliable for screening ENM due to interference.  There is a pressing need for reliable and reproducible methods for screening biological and environmental behaviors of ENM, and also for predictive methods that can prioritize ENM warranting further evaluation. Moreover, it is critical that such methods be developed by researchers working closely with risk assessors and policy makers who are familiar with how data resulting from application of the methods will be used in subsequent risk assessments and policy development for ENM.

This September 2014 public workshop on advancing risk analysis for ENM is being held in cooperation with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN).  Together with the SRA ENMSG and the National Science Foundation, co-sponsoring organizations include: the Alberta Ingenuity Fund, American Chemistry Council, Bergeson and Campbell, Keller and Heckman, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) International, Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization.  

Many of the co-sponsoring organizations will participate in the plenary and interactive sessions to explore the state of the science for exposure assessment, human health risk, and ecological risk of nanoscale materials. Individual contributions to the plenary and interactive sessions are anticipated to address the following topics:

•    Read-across activities, using a suite of methods (multiple models) that link data on properties of nanoscale materials and human health effects to support comparative assessments;

•         Preliminary analyses of the availability of existing and novel ATS and HTS methods and data to inform read-across applications, extending from existing measurements for nanoscale substances to characterizing potential health and environmental risks of modified nanomaterials, to support the development of further guidance (this will tap an initial report and database);

•         Current applications and opportunities for ATS methods to inform exposure and risk assessments for nanoscale materials;

•         Current applications and opportunities for ATS methods to predict environmental impacts of nanoscale materials;

•         Uncertainty characterization associated with predictive relationships, and proposed strategies for addressing the uncertainties, with suggestions for the OECD WPMN Sponsorship Program database as indicated, and for using such comparative analyses to help inform OECD planning of a potential experimental Phase 2;

•         Data needs and strategies for ATS methods to be more broadly adopted for screening purposes in risk assessment paradigms.

A series of publications is planned from this September 2014 conference, investigating the state of the science on high-throughput screening (HTS) and ATS from a multiple-models perspective to show areas of common findings from different approaches, areas of greatest uncertainty, and priorities for follow-up applied research toward practical risk management of ENM.  In preparation for the workshop, risk analysis experts within SRA are currently collaborating to:

1)      Survey the state of the science – gather information  on ATS methods, endpoints measured, and  findings from nanomaterials studies; 

2)      Develop a database of ATS studies to help evaluate how these methods can be used;

3)      Conduct a preliminary analysis of methods to compare results from similar assays;

4)      Review recent public commentary to highlight key issues and consider information needs;

5)      Prepare for dialogue about opportunities for ATS to be developed into a multiple-models approach to inform risk analysis for ENM.

We welcome your participation! For more information, see or please contact Jo Anne Shatkin at

                                                                                                                                      Submitted by Jo Ann Shatkin