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A Definition and Categorization System for Advanced Materials: The Foundation for Risk-Informed Environmental Health and Safety Testing

Alan Kennedy, Jonathon Brame, Taylor Rycroft, Matthew Wood, Valerie Zemba, Charles Weiss, Matthew Hull, Cary Hill, Charles Geraci, Igor Linkov
Risk Analysis: An Official Publication of the Society for Risk Analysis 2019 March 25
30908695
Novel materials with unique or enhanced properties relative to conventional materials are being developed at an increasing rate. These materials are often referred to as advanced materials (AdMs) and they enable technological innovations that can benefit society. Despite their benefits, however, the unique characteristics of many AdMs, including many nanomaterials, are poorly understood and may pose environmental safety and occupational health (ESOH) risks that are not readily determined by traditional risk assessment methods. To assess these risks while keeping up with the pace of development, technology developers and risk assessors frequently employ risk-screening methods that depend on a clear definition for the materials that are to be assessed (e.g., engineered nanomaterial) as well as a method for binning materials into categories for ESOH risk prioritization. The term advanced material lacks a consensus definition and associated categorization or grouping system for risk screening. In this study, we aim to establish a practitioner-driven definition for AdMs and a practitioner-validated framework for categorizing AdMs into conceptual groupings based on material characteristics. Results from multiple workshops and interviews with practitioners provide consistent differentiation between AdMs and conventional materials, offer functional nomenclature for application science, and provide utility for future ESOH risk assessment prioritization. The definition and categorization framework established here serve as a first step in determining if and when there is a need for specific ESOH and regulatory screening for an AdM as well as the type and extent of risk-related information that should be collected or generated for AdMs and AdM-enabled technologies.

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