Posted: Sep 16, 2010

Regulation of products containing nanomaterial: Traceability, a pre-condition to acceptability

(Nanowerk News) Within the framework of the Belgian Presidency of the EU, a conference was held on Tuesday on the development of nanomaterials management and information tools.
Paul Magnette, the Belgian Minister for Energy, Environment, Sustainable Development and Consumer Protection has opened the day. "I took the initiative of organising this event with social ecology in mind. Social ecology aims at protecting consumer health and environment and at guaranteeing the development of a secure and sound economy based notably on innovation and acceptable industrial applications that create quality jobs. In this context it is essential to reassure consumers that all products containing nanomaterial (or made using nanotechnology), that are on the market, have been tested by an independent body and do not constitute a health hazard".
In fact, several questions regarding the risks posed by nanomaterials to health and environment remain unanswered. The seminar will enable us to review the situation of nanomaterials' traceability and the legislative initiatives underway, in order to work out, in the short-term, an operational framework to deal with incidents and, in the long-term, to improve risk management.
"We await the next European Environment and Health Action Plan which is expected to address the challenge of nanomaterials among its priority areas. In 2011, the Commission will also have to respond to the European Parliament Resolution adopted in April 2009, on the regulatory aspects of nanomaterials. According to the resolution, various ambitious measures will be taken in order to ensure safety with regard to nanomaterials and nanotechnology".
Furthermore, Minister Magnette has put forward 5 following proposals worked out by the Belgian Presidency to respond to consumer needs whilst ensuring their safety:
1. Define the obligation to inform the consumer of the presence of nanomaterials in consumer products.
2. Ensure the traceability of the chain so as to be able to return to the source, if necessary. Regarding this aspect, it would be obligatory to maintain a register of nanomaterials.
3. Identify the most appropriate regulatory path at the EU level for risk evaluation and management.
4. Encourage Member States, during this transitory period, to take up the responsibility and draw up integrated national strategies and concrete measures in favour of risk management, information and monitoring.
5. Regulate the claims made on labels of products containing nanomaterials.
The Belgian Presidency is sending out a clear signal to the European and national authorities, scientific and regulatory bodies, so that they take the necessary measures leading to the required regulatory provisions in order to dispel doubts regarding the effects of nanomaterials, at the earliest.
Source: The Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union