Scientific challenge

Nanomaterials are an increasingly important product of nanotechnologies with applications across healthcare, electronics, cosmetics and other areas. The different physical and chemical properties of nanoparticle-containing materials calls for specialised risk assessment. To facilitate safe nanomaterial application, product design and 'nano' regulation, the following advances are required:

  • Prediction of environmental distribution, concentration and form (speciation) of nanomaterials
  • Early assessment of health risks to workers and consumers
  • Exposure and risks to the environment
  • NanoFASE will progress our knowledge of nanomaterials, and is a follow on project of the FP7 project NanoFATE. It is part of the EU NanoSafety Cluster initiative which works at maximising the synergies between the EU research projects addressing all aspects of nanosafety including toxicology, ecotoxicology, exposure assessment, mechanisms of interaction, risk assessment and standardisation.

Project overview

Environmental fate and assessment: Nanofase Objectives

The overarching objective of NanoFASE is to deliver an integrated Exposure Assessment Framework (protocols, models, parameter  values, guidance ...) that:

  • Allows all stakeholders to assess the environmental fate of nano releases from industrial nano-enabled products
  • Is acceptable in regulatory registrations and can be integrated into the EUSES model for REACH assessment
  • Allows industry a cost-effective product-to-market process 
  • Delivers the understanding at all levels to support dialogue with public and consumers

NanoFASE will develop a set of novel concepts and approaches to underpin the Exposure Assessment Framework and strongly link research, exploitation and dissemination.

Future outcomes of NanoFASE

The project is working to five main deliverables. Firstly, a fit-for-purpose, road-tested and future-proofed exposure assessment framework for engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), comprising models, experimental methods, standardised operating procedures and detection/ quantification in environmental media will be produced. Secondly, a state-of-the-art, flexible and future-proof NanoFASE modelling Framework, employing Functional Fate Groups, environmental reactors and dynamic multimedia modelling will produced. The existing screening model, SimpleBox4Nano, will be made fully operational. this will incorporate the latest algorithms and parameterisations of ENM transformation processes developed inside and outside NanoFASE.

The project will also produce a novel, practical and future-proofed approach to classification of ENMs for fate assessment purposes. Methods, parameter values and model catalogues supporting the derivation of individual process models, describing transformation and transport processes in waste streams, air, soil and water/ sediment and uptake and accumulation in biota will be developed.


NanoFASE project activity

  • Enable form-specific  release modelling, by development  of detailed understanding of i) product-type and product-use based release forms; and ii) release pathways of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) across ENM-enabled product chains.
  • Optimise current, routine  clean media methods for ENM characterisation to deliver repeatable and reproducible results in environmentally relevant complex matrices.
  • Develop a catalogue of process-informed compartment models, to describe the transformation across time of distributions and populations of ENM forms entering all key waste management or environmental compartments.
  • Work closely with research, industry and policy stakeholders to develop a fate and exposure assessment framework comprising validated standard operating procedures  (SOPs), product value chain and waste management release modules, parameterised transformation algorithms and multimedia fate/exposure models, along with guidance for stakeholder  use.
  • Ensure that the method  and model developments have the widest and highest possible impact, by working with relevant communities (ECHA, OECD...) to enable uptake of NanoFASE methods and protocols into standards, into existing exposure prediction tools, and into mainstream chemical assessment tools, policy and regulation  (e.g. EUSES & REACH, Industrial Emissions Directive, Waste 

Collaborate with NanofateFramework Directive.

The NanoFASE project and its individual partners welcome collaborations and offer several ways of engaging in this:

  • Hosting of research visits from self-funded  PhD students and Post Doc Fellows in the project's many subject areas.
  • The "NanoFASE interactive  model and method catalogue", allowing people to comment  on and critique the NanoFASE models and methods, as well as propose new or other ones.
  • Organization of joint workshops  on specific science topics.

For more information or to collaborate contact us at  

Principal Investigator

  • CEH Group Leader for the Ecotoxicology and Chemical Risk group within CEH’s Pollution Science Area (2017 – onwards)
  • Senior manager for the Groups 16 staff and associated PhD students (2017 – onwards)
  • Principal researcher in Ecotoxicology
  • Co-chair the EU Nano Safety Cluster’s working group on Exposure with responsibility for the environmental section (2017- , full WG chair 2014-17)
  • Expert working Group member for EFSA on Mixture (2016-19)