If all existing nanomaterials were to be tested for toxicity, it would cost U.S. industries between $249 million and $1.18 billion, but the testing could take as long as 53 years at current levels of investment, according to the first study (DOI 10.1021/es802388s) to estimate the costs and time needed for nanotoxicology testing.
Ramachandran and his colleague Jae-Young Choi, also at the University of Minnesota, and environmental scientist Milind Kandlikar at the University of British Columbia gathered information on 329 nanotech firms in the U.S., including the size of the companies and their R&D spending. Because data on how much money companies spend on nanomaterials and investigating their possible hazards are not publicly available, the authors used hypothetical scenarios and assumed differential spending by companies of different sizes. Using data on the costs per test included in REACH, the authors estimated the costs and time needed for varying levels of testing on nanomaterials.
The ES&T study, by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of British Columbia (Canada), argues that instead of testing all existing nanomaterials, manufacturers can overcome the costs and time constraints of toxicity testing by taking a tiered approach. This would involve prioritizing the materials that need the most rigorous testing by using existing information on toxicity and exposure. The tiered approach is also used in the EUís Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) statute.