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NIOSH draft CIB on Occupational Risk Assessment discusses emerging practices, including nanomaterials risk assessment

On July 26, 2018, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced the availability of a draft Current Intelligence Bulletin: NIOSH Practices in Occupational Risk Assessment. The draft Current Intelligence Bulletin (CIB) describes the underlying science and general approach used by NIOSH researchers when conducting high quality, scientifically sound assessments of the health risk associated with workplace hazards. The draft CIB focuses on chemical risk assessment practices.

The information provided by the draft CIB is intended for NIOSH risk assessors, other scientists, stakeholders, and the public to improve their understanding of the NIOSH risk assessment process.  NIOSH states that the purpose of the public review is to obtain comments on whether the draft CIB:  (1) adequately, clearly, and concisely explains NIOSH practices in risk assessment; and (2) demonstrates that its practices are consistent with the current scientific knowledge.  Appendix C addresses emerging practices and includes a section on nanomaterials risk assessment.  The draft CIB states: “Given the large and growing number of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) with limited data, as for other emerging and existing substances produced or used in the workplace, alternative test strategies (i.e., a toxicological approach other than primary animal testing), such as high throughput screening and in vitro exposures, may help to fill the gaps by providing data that could be used in validated hazard and risk assessment models.”  According to the draft CIB, a “promising use of alternative test strategies data is comparative potency analyses between nanomaterials and benchmark materials” for use in the development of occupational exposure bands.  The draft CIB states that possible benchmark materials to evaluate inhalation hazards “may include fine crystalline silica, asbestos, and ultrafine titanium dioxide and/or carbon black.”