Facing complexity through informed simplifications: a research agenda for aquatic exposure assessment of nanoparticles
Journal article, 2013
Exposure assessment of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) is a challenging task mainly due to the novel properties of these new materials and the complexity caused by a wide range of particle characteristics, ENP-containing products and possible environmental interactions. We here present a research agenda in which we propose to face the complexity associated with ENP exposure assessment through informed and systematic simplifications. Exposure modelling is presented as a method for addressing complexity by identifying processes dominant for the fate of ENPs in the environment and enabling an iterative learning process by studying different emission and fate scenarios. Furthermore, the use of models is important to highlight most pressing research needs. For this reason, we also strongly encourage improved communication and collaboration between modellers and experimental scientists. Feedback between modellers and experimental scientists is crucial in order to understand the big picture of ENP exposure assessment and to establish common research strategies. Through joint research efforts and projects, the field of ENP exposure assessment can greatly improve and significantly contribute to a comprehensive and systematic risk assessment of ENPs.