A recent editorial in the journal Nanotoxicology which addresses the dangers of indiscriminate generalizations on nanoparticle toxicity, has just been made freely available for a limited time.
In Nanoparticles – one word: A multiplicity of different hazards (Nanotoxicology Vol. 3, No. 4, Pages 263-264), 12 authors express their concern over “how the term “nanoparticles” is being somewhat indiscriminately used, especially in the titles of scientific papers and in statements to the press.” They state:
No self-respecting researcher would dream of publishing results showing, for example, that quartz was a genotoxin under the title ‘Particles are genotoxic’. Generalizations like these are unhelpful and unscientific, and potentially dangerous in the wrong hands. Exactly the same applies for research into the toxicology and potential impacts of nanoparticles. Yet in 2009, papers are still appearing that explore the activity of a small range of nanoparticle types, yet uses the term ‘nanoparticle’ in its broadest sense in the title as though it was a generically useful term representing one class of hazard.
Responding in part to a recent paper that linked nanoparticles in the most general sense to seven very serious cases of occupational lung and pleural injury occurring in China (Song et al. 2009), the authors urge the author of papers to:
- Ensure that all descriptions of nanoparticle hazards recognize the intrinsic heterogeneity of the nanoparticle hazard and discuss the uncertainty of alleged causality;
- Ensure that there is a convincing and scientifically sustainable link between any nanoparticle exposure and any pathological outcomes putatively associated with that exposure; and
- Ensure that sufficient physical and chemical characterization data are provided on the nanoparticles in question to support valid data interpretation and comparison.
The full paper van be accessed at http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/17435390903337701
The paper’s authors are (in alphabetical order):
Dr Rob Aitken, SAFENANO, Institute of Occupational Medicine, Edinburgh, UK
Professor Paul Borm, Hogeschool Zuyd, Heerlen, The Netherlands
Professor Ken Donaldson, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
Professor Gaku Ichihara, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
Professor Steffen Loft, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Professor Francelyne Marano, Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7, Paris, France
Dr Andrew Maynard, Woodrow Wilson Centre, Washington DC, USA
Professor Günter Oberdörster, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA
Dr Herman Stamm, European Commission Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy
Professor Vicki Stone, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK
Dr Lang Tran, Institute of Occupational Medicine, Edinburgh, UK
Professor Hakan Wallin, National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark