Public Health (15-09-2006)
Nanotechnologies: SANCO Director-General Robert Madelin addresses Finnish EU Presidency Conference
DG Health and Consumers
The current Finnish Presidency of the EU held a conference entitled “Nanotechnologies - Safety for Success” in Otaniemi, Espoo (near Helsinki) in Finland on 14-15 September 2006, where Robert Madelin, Director-General of the Commission’s Health and Consumer Protection DG was a speaker.
The purpose of the conference was to facilitate a dynamic dialogue on the vast opportunities presented by nanotechnologies, as well as on the potential concerns involved in the advent of their applications. The conference also aimed to contribute to the development of concrete safety recommendations in the application of nanotechnologies.
Nanotechnologies involve the controlled production at molecular level of new materials, structures and devices, which have at least one dimension in the range 0.2-100 nanometres. To put this into context, the diameter of a human hair is 80 000 nanometres. Nanotechnologies encompass the many techniques used to create structures at a size scale below 100 nanometres, which exploit the very large surface-to-volume ratios of nanoparticles, as well as special (“quantum-mechanical”) physical effects.
Robert Madelin rounded up the conference by discussing the role and actions of the Commission and MemberStates in responding to potential product safety concerns involving nanotechnologies – with particular reference to the General Product Safety Directive. He also talked about the role of the EU-level scientific committees dealing with nanotechnologies. Finally, he called on scientists, engineers and industry to work towards achieving robust risk assessment, data records and safety standards in nanotechnology, to ensure public confidence in this innovative technology.
The conference was attended by for public authorities, representatives of industry and researchers as well as for consumer and patient groups and environmental NGOs dealing with nanotechnologies in the fields of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food and food packaging, cosmetics and electronics.
More information on the conference can be found here: http://www.fmnt.fi/ntss
More information on the Health and Consumer Protection DG’s work on nanotechnologies: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/scenihr_cons_01_en.htm