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Assessment of environmental fate of nanomaterials


Specific challenge: A potential nanomaterial risk for humans and the environment is present only when both exposure and a hazard potential of the nanomaterial exist. The challenge is to address the prediction of environmental distribution, concentration and form (speciation) of nanomaterials. It includes release and exposure studies using laboratory, field and model simulations of possible release and transformation of nanomaterials transport and fate, availability and bioaccumulation potential, to allow early assessment of potential exposure and facilitate safe product design.

Scope: The testing and modelling framework to be developed must allow prediction of the release and fate of nanomaterials over relevant whole product chains from manufacturing, downstream application and use, including waste and accidents, consumer use, to end-of-life recycling or disposal and final environmental fate. The predictive framework to be developed should include basic geographical and demographic considerations for uses, and address the physico-chemical characterisation at the release sources as well as the identification of the main mechanisms and nanomaterial properties driving their transformation and fate. The framework should enable predictive mapping of zones of accumulations and exposure potential (including the final aging transformations, forms and uptake availabilities) of nanomaterials in these “environmental sinks” and hot spots.

A close collaboration with stakeholders and different industries should be envisaged, to enhance realistic modelling and testing.

Activities expected to focus on Technology Readiness Level 4.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 6 and 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. No more than one proposal will be funded.

Expected impact:

•  understanding and quantifying nanomaterial release from manufacturing, use and end-of-life stages in relevant product value chains

•  an overall validated framework that ensures the completeness and quality of information and data needed for understanding and predictive modelling of environmental transport and transformation

•  understanding of the interplay of the different transformation, transport, and aging mechanisms determining environmental exposure

•  enabling safer product design guidance, comprehensive laboratory and field test procedures all along the product chain, including metrology and standardisation issues for characterisation,  and addressing international harmonisation and regulation


Type of action: Research & Innovation Actions