Successful strategies to handle the potential health and environmental risks of engineered nanomaterials (ENM) often rely upon the well-established frameworks of life cycle assessment (LCA) and risk assessment (RA). However, current research and specific guidance on how to actually apply these two frameworks are still very much under development. Through an in-depth review, this study evaluates how research efforts have applied LCA and RA together for ENM with a particular emphasis on past “lessons learned” from applying these frameworks to chemicals. Among other results, it appears that current scientific research efforts have taken into account some key lessons learned from past experiences with chemicals at the same time that many key challenges remain to applying these frameworks to ENM. In that setting, two main proposed approaches to use LCA and RA together for ENM are identified: i) LC-based RA, similar to traditional RA applied in a life cycle perspective, and ii) RA-complemented LCA, similar to conventional LCA supplemented by RA in specific life cycle steps. This study finds that these two approaches for using LCA and RA together for ENM are similar to those made for chemicals, and hence, there does not appear to be much progress made specifically for ENM. We therefore provide specific recommendations for applying LCA and RA to ENM, for which the need to establish proper dose metrics within both methods is identified as an important requirement.
Conference Proceedings 2013 Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting, 2013