Activities & Projects

PROSPEcT: Ecotoxicology Test Protocols for Representative Nanomaterials in Support of the OECD Sponsorship Programme

The PROSPEcT Project (PROSPEcT: Ecotoxicology Test Protocols for Representative Nanomaterials in Support of the OECD Sponsorship Programme) is a 50:50 Public-Private-Partnership between the Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA), specific NIA Member-Companies, several university laboratories, leading in the research of nanoparticle detection and exoctoxicology, and the UK Government (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Technology Strategy Board, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council).

The PROSPEcT project picks up on the seminal work and recommendations of the UK Royal Society & Royal Academy of Engineering report on the opportunities and challenges posed by nanotechnologies and provides a direct contribution to the global safety assessment of nanomaterials described by the OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN). PROSPECT developed essential and seminal test methods and data on two nanomaterials that are of particular commercial relevance to the UK: nano-CeO2 and nano-ZnO; both nanomaterials are part of a list of 14 nanomaterials, identified as commercially relevant to the global economic impact of nanotechnology. 

The PROSPEcT project concentrated on conducting ecotoxicology methodology and protocol development for nano-CeO2 and nano-ZnO, in order to develop appropriate test methodologies and protocols to address ecotoxicology endpoints, and to ultimately generate in-depth scientific understanding of their properties and behaviour in the (eco)toxicological context. New nanomaterial-specific scientific methodologies and protocols will be developed, in order to overcome the scientific limitations of current tests, such as particle characterisation within different matrices or living systems, detection of individual particles beyond the detection limit, reproduction of realistic exposure scenarios, and to provide novel tools suitable for the safety assessment of nanomaterials.

The nanomaterial used in the PROSPEcT project have been endorsed as a Principal Materials under the OECD WPMN Sponsorship Programme; they are sub-sampled by and held at the European Repository of NM-Series of Representative Manufactured Nanomaterials under the following codes:


Zinc oxide, uncoated

Zinc Oxide


Zinc oxide, coated

Zinc Oxide coated triethoxycaprylsilane


Zinc oxide, uncoated

Zinc Oxide


Zinc oxide, uncoated

Zinc Oxide *



Cerium Dioxide

Cerium (IV) Oxide precipitated, uncoated, cubic


Cerium Dioxide

Cerium (IV) Oxide precipitated, uncoated


Cerium Dioxide

Cerium (IV) Oxide *

*control material.


Funded with GBP 3.7 Million, the PROSPEcT Project represents one of the largest single contributions to the OECD WPMN Sponsorship Programme.

The PROSPEcT Project started 1 January 2009 and its final dissemination meeting was held in November 2012 at the UK Royal Academy of Science, London.



PROSPECT Publications



PROSPEcT nano-CeO2 Literature Review (PDF, 564 KB)









PROSPEcT nano‐ZnO Literature Review (PDF, 404 KB)









Evaluation and Assignment of Nanoparicle Dispersion/Characterisaton Methodologies, to be Developed under PROSPEcT (PDF, 392 KB)








PROSPEcT Sampling Protocol (PDF, 368 KB)








PROSPECT Dispersion Protocol (PDF, 340 KB)







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