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New International Guidelines Outline Process for Evaluating Risk in Nanotechnology


U.S. leadership supports development of newly released ISO technical report

With the continual advancement of nanotechnologies and their ever-expanding use in more and more industries around the world, international standards must keep pace to ensure the safety and efficiency of this rapidly progressing technology. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently published a Technical Report (TR) that provides guidance for assessing risk when working with nanomaterials.

ISO/TR 13121, Nanotechnologies — Nanomaterial risk evaluation, describes a process for identifying, evaluating, addressing, making decisions about, and communicating the potential risks of developing and using manufactured nanomaterials, in order to protect the health and safety of the public, consumers, workers, and the environment. It offers guidance on the information needed to make sound risk evaluations and risk management decisions, as well as how to manage in the face of incomplete or uncertain information by using reasonable assumptions and appropriate risk management practices.

ISO/TR 13121 focuses on manufactured nanomaterials that consist of particles typically at or below 100 nanometers (nm) in one dimension (e.g., nanoplates), two dimensions (e.g., nanofibres), or three dimensions (e.g., nanoparticles). The process described is focused primarily on manufactured nanomaterials as they are used in industrial, chemical, manufacturing, and consumer applications, and on the potential risks associated with releases of nanomaterials at some point in their lifecycles.

ISO/TR 13121 was prepared by ISO TC 229, Nanotechnologies, Working Group (WG) 3, Health, Safety and Environment, under the project group leadership of Chris Bell of the United States. This group is U.S.-led, operating under the leadership of Steven Brown of the Intel Corporation. Dr. Laurie Locascio of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) serves as the WG 3 chair for the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO TC 229.

"This Technical Report represents a collaborative effort by experts around the world," said Mr. Brown. "It is designed to provide sound technical guidance for all organizations handling nanomaterials, including small to medium enterprises, and can be applied to research and development activities performed in academic settings."

The United States participates actively in the work of ISO TC 229 and its four WGs, and national input is developed by the U.S. TAG to ISO TC 229, a group that is accredited and administered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

To learn more about the U.S. TAG for ISO TC 229, visit or contact Heather Benko ([email protected]).


Jana Zabinski

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Beth Goodbaum

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