Public Health (11-04-2007)
Nanomaterials to be specified in the EU Technical Guidance for chemicals
The Commission has today launched a public consultation of the preliminary opinion of the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) on the appropriateness of the EU Technical Guidance Documents for chemicals in regard to nanomaterials. The online consultation, which will run until 23 May 2007, aims to gather feedback on proposed modifications to the Technical Guidance Documents and on needs for further research and development.
The report concludes, similarly to the earlier SCENIHR opinion of March 2006  , that while the current methodologies are generally likely to be able to identify the hazards associated with the use of nanoparticles, modifications for the existing guidance will be necessary. No common rules exist yet for the toxicology of nanomaterials. Therefore, the evaluation of nanoparticle formulations should be carried out on a case by case basis. Moreover, special characteristics of nanomaterials - potentially differing considerably from the conventional chemicals - have to be appropriately characterised. Furthermore, their toxicological behaviour and effects on health and the environment need to be assessed properly.
The SCENIHR identifies issues requiring improvements in the technical guidance and methodologies, and proposes a staged strategy for the risk assessment of nanomaterials. Special consideration is required for the assessment of the potential translocation of nanoparticles away from the portal of entry in humans and other species, and that the passage of nanoparticles across membranes could give rise to adverse effects, for example within the cardiovascular system or following passage across the blood – brain barrier.
Nanotechnologies are expected to bring substantial benefits to the quality of life of citizens and to European competitiveness. Public safety and perception are key strategic elements for the success of nanotechnology. In recognition of the huge potential of nanotechnologies, the Commission Action Plan supports a safe, integrated, and responsible approach to the development of nanotechnologies. Furthermore, the Commission has given R&D on nanotechnologies a high priority in its 7th Framework Programme for Research. Hence, the SCENIHR work contributes to the further prioritisation of research projects and supports measures for further integration of the safety to the development of nanotechnologies.
For more information, see:
 SCENIHR 1st opinion: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_003b.pdf