Posted: January 15, 2010

Nanomaterials under REACH. Nanosilver as a case study

(Nanowerk News) Some adjustments are needed in the European chemicals legislation REACH to assess and control the risks of nanomaterials. The information on substances to be provided under REACH is not sufficient to determine the specific properties of nanomaterials, nor to assess how these properties affect their behaviour and effects in humans and the environment.
RIVM – the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in The Netherlands – concluded this following research into the suitability of REACH for nanomaterials. RIVM therefore proposes an adapted set of minimum information requirements, to be applied to all nanomaterials to be registered under REACH, independent of their volume of production and import. These requirements allow a risk assessment of nanomaterials.
Over the last years the use of nanomaterials has strongly increased. As yet, nanomaterials are defined as substances of which the discrete parts have at least one dimension smaller than one hundred nanometres. Due to their nanosize they have specific properties. Legislation should focus on controlling the potential hazards and risks of these nanomaterials.
By conducting a hypothetical registration of nanosilver it was investigated whether REACH is suitable for assessing the safe use of nanomaterials. From this it appeared that no definition of a nanomaterial is present, and that a relevant measure for expressing harmfulness and exposure is as yet not known. In addition, the standard information requirements are insufficient to assess hazard and exposure. They are also insufficient for a proper characterisation of the nanomaterial. Consequently, it cannot be determined to what extent the nanoform of a substance corresponds to the non-nanoform of the same substance. Furthermore, it is unclear whether current risk reduction measures and extrapolation methods in risk assessment, as established for non-nanomaterials, are applicable to nanomaterials.
Report: "Nanomaterials under REACH. Nanosilver as a case study" (pdf download, 113 KB)
Source: RIVM