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Posted: Jan 9th, 2009
Nanotechnology safety for success dialogue
(Nanowerk Spotlight) Stakeholders attending the second annual "Safety for Success" dialogue last October in Brussels agreed that while many activities had taken place during the past year towards the responsible development and regulation of nanotechnologies more effort was needed. Discussion highlighted three areas that require coordinated effort from all parties: 1) Developing trustworthy information on products containing nanomaterials that are on or near the market, and on how they are tested. 2) Meaningful public engagement on the basis of shared definitions of nanotechnology. 3) Ongoing regulatory reviews to provide clear guidance to industry on how to interpret regulatory frameworks, and clear indications to the public about action being taken in cases where relevant risk data is limited or uncertain. In addition, the meeting identified a number of key points that need to be addressed in order to meet these three priorities.
Further research on nanotechnology risks remains a significant priority. This work should include developing practical methodologies for testing nanomaterials. For
example, more work is required to make reliable comparisons of in vitro and in vivo toxicology studies. Further work is needed on exposure routes and effects of longterm exposures to low dosages.
In addition, more knowledge is needed about nanomaterials in the environment, including questions of aggregation and disaggregation, accumulation, and interactions with other chemicals.
In the area of regulation, further clarification is requested regarding the adequacy of current regulation given uncertainties about the characterization and biological properties of nanomaterials. The meeting discussed developing regulatory options for pre-market intervention (assessment and authorization processes) including the question of considering nanomaterials as ‘new’ substances.
Finally, work is required on the introduction of post-market monitoring systems and consideration of the question of labeling.
The meeting requested that industry make information on safety aspects of nanotechnology containing products more accessible to regulators and consumers. While industry has engaged in several public dialogue processes in recent years further effort is needed to ensure that these are visible, well co-ordinated and lead to meaningful action.
Many participants agreed that positive steps had been taken during the past year. However, the overarching question remained how to ensure public confidence in
efforts by all stakeholders to provide relevant information, develop appropriate testing methods, deal with remaining questions of uncertainty over risks, and appropriately implement regulatory frameworks.
The workshop was organized into sessions, each of which featured several presentations:
Session 8: "Identification in break-out groups of means to improve (i) communication and (ii) the implementation of the existing legislation in the chemical, medical, products, and food areas (priorities and next steps, for whom and when)"