Modeling approaches for characterizing and evaluating environmental exposure to engineered nanomaterials in support of risk-based decision making
As the use of engineered nanomaterials becomes more prevalent, the likelihood of unintended exposure to these materials also increases. Given the current scarcity of experimental data regarding fate, transport and bioavailability, determining potential environmental exposure to these materials requires an in depth analysis of modeling techniques that can be used in both the near-term and long-term. Here, we provide a critical review of traditional and emerging exposure modeling approaches to highlight the challenges that scientists and decision-makers face when developing environmental exposure and risk assessments for nanomaterials. We find that accounting for nano-specific properties, overcoming data gaps, realizing model limitations, and handling uncertainty are key to developing informative and reliable environmental exposure and risk assessments for engineered nanomaterials. We find methods suited to recognizing and addressing significant uncertainty to be most appropriate for near-term environmental exposure modeling, given the current state of information and the current insufficiency of established deterministic models to address environmental exposure to engineered nanomaterials.