Safety of manufactured nanomaterials

Sponsorship Programme for the Testing of Manufactured Nanomaterials


Sponsorship Programme for the Testing of Manufactured Nanomaterials



OECD’s Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN) launched a Sponsorship Programme in November 2007. The programme involves OECD member countries, as well as some non-member economies and other stakeholders to pool expertise and to fund the safety testing of specific Manufactured Nanomaterials (MNs).  In launching this Sponsorship Programme, the WPMN agreed on a priority list of 13 MNs for testing (based on materials which are in, or close to, commerce). They also agreed a list of endpoints for which they should be tested.  Much valuable information on the safety of MNs can be derived by testing a representative set for human health and environmental safety.

Framework and outcomes of the Sponsorship Programme

There are three levels of participation by stakeholders to the sponsorship programme:

  • A Lead Sponsor assumes responsibility for conducting or coordinating all of the testing determined to be appropriate for each of the endpoints for a specific nanomaterial. In some cases, “joint lead” arrangements have been developed.
  • A Co-Sponsor conducts some of the testing determined to be appropriate and feasible to address the endpoints for a specific listed nanomaterial.
  • A Contributor provides test data, reference or testing materials or other relevant information to the lead and co-Sponsors.

Lead Sponsors, Co-Sponsors together with Contributors are preparing “Dossier Development Plans” (DDPs) for the testing of each listed nanomaterial. These DDPs will outline the specific plan for the testing of each nanomaterial including when and where the testing will be undertaken and by whom. The DDPs will also include information on the materials to be tested as well as information on sample preparation and dosimetry.

The Sponsorship Programme aims to test nanomaterials which are already in use or will be soon, including fullerenes (also known as "bucky balls"), single-wall (SWCNTs) and multi-wall (MWCNTs) carbon nanotubes. These key nanomaterials will be tested for their physical-chemical properties, environmental degradation and accumulation, environmental toxicology, and mammalian toxicology.
The outcomes of this Sponsorship Programme will provide useful information on the “intrinsic properties” of nanomaterials, that is, on properties of nanomaterials which are unique to the nanoscale dimension of these materials. Understanding intrinsic properties of nanomaterials is crucial to choose existing, adapt or create appropriate risk evaluation and management strategies.