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Posted: April 21, 2009

European Commission launches public nanotechnology consultation

(Nanowerk News) Nanotechnologies are expected to bring benefits to many areas. They are enabling technologies which will interact with and reinforce the potential of other technologies like information and communication technologies and biotechnology, with a wide range of potential applications. At the nano scale, matter shows different properties, making it difficult to predict potential adverse impact on health and the environment. As a result, the European Commission has developed a policy for their safe, integrated and responsible development.
To that end, the Commission is continuously monitoring the developments in nanotechnologies and is using the independent EU Scientific Committees to contribute to the assessment of health and environmental risks that they may pose. In this context, the recent opinion on the Risk Assessment of Nanomaterials by the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) timely contributes to current discussions on nanomaterials in the EU legislative proposals relating to novel foods and cosmetics as well as for the implementation of existing legislation such as REACH.
In its latest opinion, the SCENIHR builds on and confirms or further develops the findings reported in its earlier opinions published in 2006 and 2007: the methodologies for assessing exposure to manufactured nanomaterials to humans and the environment, as well as the identification of potential hazards require further development. Furthermore, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) which is now replaced by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) has also contributed to the discussions with its opinion on the Safety of Nanomaterials in cosmetic products.
In recognition of the importance of the issue of safety of nanotechnologies, the Commission is organising a one-day scientific hearing, which will take place on 10 September 2009 in Brussels. The hearing will focus on the scientific aspects of the issues covered in the Scientific Committees' opinions related to Nanotechnology mentioned above.
In order to prepare for this hearing, the Commission is launching a public consultation relating to the three main objectives to be addressed:
  • identification of any possible topics which have not been covered in the opinions from the relevant EU Risk Assessment Committees and Bodies;
  • identification of what are -according to current scientific knowledge- the main potential risks that could emerge from the use of nanomaterials in the future; and
  • identification of the issues to be discussed at the hearing including provision of background information and comments on those issues.
  • The outcome of the consultation will be presented at the Scientific Hearing in September.
    Interested parties are invited to send their comments via the following website.
    Deadline for submission of comments: 19 June 2009
    Please note that comments received after the deadline CAN NOT be taken into account. In addition, please note that comments which do not relate to the scope of this public consultation or do not comply with the criteria for these public consultations will not be considered.
    More information on the European Commission's Risk Assessment structure on Health issues can be found here.
    For any questions or further clarifications, please contact: SANCO-Nanohearing@ec.europa.eu
    Source: European Commission