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Over the past 20 years nanotechnology has been considered as the technology of the 21st century. A huge amount of development has occurred during this period, not only of new applications and products already on the market, but also of possibilities that may become available within the next 10 to 15 years. Besides innovation and market demands, products are increasingly directly related to the use or implementation of nanomaterials. The manufacturing of nanomaterials and the reinforcement of products by the integration of nanomaterials leads directly to the interaction of nanomaterials with humans and the environment. With this increasing number of scenarios for human exposure to the newly synthesized nanomaterials, the evaluation of possible adverse effects of such materials is of utmost importance. This is the reason for a flood of publications on the newly created discipline of nanotoxicology, which was named as such in 2004 for the first time. More than 25 000 publications have increased the knowledge of the biological effects of nanomaterials in various species. However, we have also realized that many such studies were undertaken in a misleading sense as most of them have been mechanistic studies, but authors as well as readers have often used them as toxicological studies. Moreover, as harmonized test protocols and adapted OECD guidelines have not been available for nanomaterials in the past 15 years, many results are not reliable and difficult to interpret and repeat. Therefore, we have to take up the challenge of establishing such protocols and harmonize methods for a better toxicological research approach to nanomaterials in the near future.

But this is not the only challenge. Toxicology itself is being orientated into a new direction. Animal testing is more and more under suspicion to deliver false-positive or false-negative results, the existing in vitro methods, on the other hand, also have many restrictions or shortcomings. Thus, the development of new testing strategies and new assay platforms is an urgent necessity.

This book brings together a number of outstanding researchers in this field to deliver an actual and comprehensive picture of the international science of nanomaterials toxicology and to present an insight into future opportunities. Here we find the actual knowledge about characterization of newly synthesized nanomaterials as one of the major challenges for biologists and toxicologists. Moreover, working with standardized operating procedures (SOPs) is for many researchers an “old chestnut” and many funding programmes are looking for the newest and most relevant project. This neglects the fact that this is merely increasing the knowledge of new mechanisms, but does not help legal regulation. Here we would need better and more reliable data, which have probably been produced in round robins, so we can rely on these during the regulatory steps. We should not forget the necessity for rules in toxicological studies as otherwise we shall, in the long term, fail in our attempts to regulate nanomaterials for the growing market. This book is a helpful and excellent example of how we can proceed into a future where toxicology is on the right track!

Harald Krug

Empa – Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science & Technology Switzerland

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