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Health and environmental risks of nanoparticles and nanomaterials

 

Glossary over Health and environmental risks of nanoparticles and nanomaterials

Allergy

Allergies are inappropriate or exaggerated reactions of the immune system to substances that, in the majority of people, cause no symptoms.

Symptoms of the allergic diseases may be caused by exposure of the skin to a chemical, of the respiratory system to particles of dust or pollen (or other substances), or of the stomach and intestines to a particular food. (Source: ACAAI Allergy-Immunology Glossary  )

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Bioaccumulation

Bioaccumulation is used to describe the increase in concentration of a substance in an organism over time.

Bioaccumulative substances tend to be fat soluble and not to be broken down by the organism. (Source: GreenFacts )

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Biocide(s)

According to the Biocides Directive (98/8/EC), biocidal products are those that are intended to destroy, render harmless, prevent the action of, or otherwise exert a controlling effect on any harmful organism by chemical or biological means. Examples include disinfectants, preservatives, antiseptics, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides.

Biocidal products mentioned in the Biocides Directive are listed in the following table: (Source: GreenFacts, based on the Biocides Directive (98/8/EC)  )

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Cell

The basic subunit of any living organism; the simplest unit that can exist as an independent living system. There are many different types of cells in complex organisms such as humans, each with specific characteristics. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Chronic

Occurring over a long period of time, either continuously or intermittently; used to describe ongoing exposures and effects that develop only after a long exposure. (Source: US EPA Thesaurus  )

Compound(s)

A material made up of two or more elements combined in a fixed ratio. (Source: CoRIS glossary  )

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Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment

RIVM works to prevent and control outbreaks of infectious diseases.

We promote public health and consumer safety, and we help to protect the quality of the environment.

RIVM collects and collates knowledge and information from various sources, both national and international.

We apply this knowledge ourselves, and we place it at the disposal of policy-makers, researchers, regulatory authorities and the general public.

Each year, RIVM produces numerous reports on all aspects of public health, nutrition and diet, health care, disaster management, nature and the environment. (Source: www.rivm.nl/en  )

Exposure

Contact of the cells of an organism with a substance, micro-organism or radiation. In the case of humans, this may involve contact with a substance or agent by swallowing, breathing, or through the skin or eyes. Exposure may be short-term [acute exposure], of intermediate duration, or long-term [chronic exposure].

Exposure can be divided into external and internal.

External exposure refers to the whole dose to which an organism is exposed.

Internal exposure refers only to that fraction of the initial chemical dose that is absorbed and distributed throughout the body via systemic circulation. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Genes

The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein. (Source: NHGRI Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms  )

Genotoxic

Toxic (damaging) to DNA. Substances that are genotoxic may bind directly to DNA or act indirectly leading to DNA damage by affecting enzymes involved in DNA replication, thereby causing mutations which may or may not lead to cancer or birth defects (inheritable damage). Genotoxic substances are not necessarily carcinogenic. (Source: GreenFacts)

In vitro

In an artificial environment outside a living organism or body. For example, some toxicity testing is done on cell cultures or slices of tissue grown in the laboratory, rather than on a living animal. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

Inflammation

Inflammation is the reaction of living tissues to infection, irritation or other injury. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Inhalation

The act of breathing.

A hazardous substance can enter the body by inhaling an airborne substance or contaminant in the form of gas, fumes mists, vapors, dusts, or aerosols. Once inhaled, contaminants can be deposited in the lungs and/or transported into the blood. (Source: GreenFacts)

Liver

The liver is a big reddish-brow organ lying beneath the diaphragm on the right side. The liver is made up for a great part of liver cells which absorb nutrients and detoxify and remove harmful substances from the blood such as drugs and alcohol. The liver has many other vital functions and there is currently no way to compensate for the absence of liver.

Other liver functions include:

  • controlling levels of fats, amino acids and glucose in the blood
  • fighting infections in the body, particularly infections arising in the bowel.
  • manufacturing bile, a kind of digestive juice which aids in the digestion of fats
  • storing iron, certain vitamins and other essential chemicals
  • breaking down food and turning it into energy
  • manufacturing, breaking down and regulating numerous hormones
  • making enzymes and proteins which are responsible for most chemical reactions in the body, for example those involved in blood clotting and repair of damaged tissues.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative (MITEI) was built according to a template laid out in the 2006 Report of the Energy Research Council commissioned by President Hockfield. The report called for new approaches to multidisciplinary research, education across school and department boundaries, a more energy efficient campus reached in part through student-led projects, and outreach to the policy world through technically grounded analysis. It also emphasized the importance of another MIT strength – partnering with industry as a prime locus for the clean energy transformation needed to address economic, environmental, and security concerns associated with the current energy system. (Source: http://mitei.mit.edu  )

Molecule

A molecule is the smallest part of any chemical compound composed of two or more atoms and which has the qualities of that substance and can exist alone in a free state. As an example, a molecule of water (H2O) consists of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. (Source: GreenFacts, based on Helios Glossary   )

Nanomaterial

Material with one or more external dimensions, or an internal structure, at nanoscale and which could exhibit novel characteristics compared to the same material at a larger scale. (Source: based on SCENIHR's opinion on the  appropriateness of existing methodologies to assess the potential risks associated with engineered and adventitious products of nanotechnologies )

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Nanometre

Unit of length equal to one millionth of a millimetre (10-9 m). (Source: GreenFacts)

Nanoparticle

Particle with one or more dimensions of the order of about 100 millionth of a millimetre (100 nm) or less.

(Note: In the SCENIHR  opinion on the appropriateness of existing methodologies to assess the potential risks associated with engineered and adventitious products of nanotechnologies, nanoparticles are considered to have two or more dimensions at the nanoscale) (Source: GreenFacts )

Nanoscale

Having one or more dimensions of the order of 100 nm or less. (Source: GreenFacts)

Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is the science of designing, producing, and using structures and devices having one or more dimensions of about 100 millionth of a millimetre (100 nanometres) or less. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Particulate matter

Sum of all microscopic solid and liquid particles, of human and natural origin, that remain suspended in a medium such as air for some time. These particles vary greatly in size, composition, and origin, and may be harmful.

Particulate matter may be in the form of fly ash, soot, dust, fog, fumes etc. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Primary & secondary particles

Primary particles are directly released into the atmosphere by wind, combustion processes, or human activities.

Secondary particles are those that form in the atmosphere from other gaseous pollutants, particularly sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and volatile organic compounds. (Source: GreenFacts)

Risk assessment

A scientifically based process consisting of four steps:

  • hazard identification,
  • hazard characterization,
  • exposure assessment and
  • risk characterization
(Source:   Official Journal of the European Communities 2002 L 31 )

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Risk management

The process, distinct from risk assessment, of weighing policy alternatives in consultation with interested parties, considering risk assessment and other legitimate factors, and, if need be, selecting appropriate prevention and control measure. (Source: Official Journal of the European Communities 2002 L 31   )

Spleen

An organ that is part of the immune system. The spleen is a storage site for lymphocytes (white blood cells important in immunity and defense against infection), it filters the blood, stores blood cells, and destroys old blood cells.

It is located on the left side of the abdomen near the stomach.

Immune reactions can occur in the spleen. (Source: GreenFacts, based on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Medical terminology & drug database  )

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The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection

The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) is an advisory body, established in 1969, that advises the United Nations (UN) system on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection.

At present GESAMP is jointly sponsored by nine UN organizations with responsibilities relating to the marine environment, and they utilize GESAMP as a mechanism for coordination and collaboration among them. GESAMP functions are to conduct and support marine environmental assessments, to undertake in-depth studies, analyses, and reviews of specific topics, and to identify emerging issues regarding the state of the marine environment. GESAMP itself today consists of 16 experts, drawn from a wide range of relevant disciplines, who act in an independent and individual capacity. Studies and assessments are usually carried out by dedicated working groups, most of whose members are not sitting members of GESAMP but part of the broader GESAMP network.

GESAMP's UN sponsors: IMO, FAO, UNESCO-IOC, WMO, IAEA, UN, UNEP, UNIDO, UNDP.GESAMP

Source: (Source: www.gesamp.org/about  )

Threshold (in an ecosystem)

The level of magnitude of a system process at which sudden or rapid change occurs. (Source: PhysicalGeography.net Glossary of terms  )

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Toxicity

The capacity or property of a substance to cause adverse effects. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Toxicology

The study of the harmful effects of substances on humans or animals. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )


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