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Public Health (12-07-2010)

Public consultation: Definition of "nanomaterial"

Today, the Commission's independent Scientific Committee for Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) launches a public consultation on a pre-consultation opinion on the scientific basis for the definition of "nanomaterial".

All interested parties are invited to submit their comments on the scientific basis and conclusions proposed by the SCENIHR by 15 September 2010.

Further details on the consultation can be found here.

With the increasing use of nanotechnology, we need a common basis to define the term "nanomaterial" in different EU legislative areas. The most important terms that need to be clearly defined to avoid misunderstanding and misuse have to do with size. For example, what is meant by "nanoscale" and "nanomaterial"?

A key issue addressed in the opinion is the arbitrary nature of the nanoscale which is currently commonly assumed to range from 1 to 100 nanometres. SCENIHR points to the absence of a scientific basis for the scale's upper limit of 100 nanometres. Since an increasing number of products contain components in this size range, a clear definition is important to avoid problems within a regulatory setting.

Once finalised, this Opinion will provide advice on the essential scientific elements of a working definition for the term "nanomaterial" for regulatory purposes.

More information on SCENIHR and the European Commission's other independent Scientific Committees can be found here:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/policy/index_en.htm

More information on the Stakeholder Dialogue Procedure can be found in the Rules of Procedure of the Scientific Committees (Annex IV).