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Source document:
SCENIHR (2009)

Summary & Details:
Media Consulta


8. How can we ensure the safety of products containing nanomaterials?

Increased awareness of the possible risks of nanomaterials has prompted consideration of the adequacy of current safety rules.

Potential health, safety or environmental risks associated with nanomaterials are covered in principle by existing laws. The European Commission believes that public protection mainly needs to be increased by better implementation of current legislation. However, this needs to be based on more knowledge of the properties of the materials, the hazards they pose, and exposure levels, so that risk assessment and the risk management of nanomaterials can be improved.

The SCENIHR concluded that while existing risk assessment methods are generally applicable to nanomaterials, specific aspects related to nanomaterials need more development. They include methods for both estimating exposure and identifying hazards. The highest risk comes from free, insoluble nanoparticles either dispersed in a liquid or as dust.

Specific unmet needs identified included:

Risk assessment

Hazards have been shown to exist for a variety of manufactured nanomaterials. The identified hazards indicate potential toxic effects of nanomaterials for man and the environment. However, not all nanomaterials induce toxic effects. Some manufactured nanomaterials which have already been in use for a long time (such as carbon black and titanium dioxide) show low toxicity. There is a suggestion that nanomaterials in general could be more toxic than other preparations of the same material. The published data do not support this. Rather, nanomaterials are similar to normal chemicals/substances in this respect. Some may be toxic and some may not. There is not yet a generally applicable framework and classification for nanomaterial hazard identification. So the SCENIHR continues to recommend a case-by-case approach for the risk assessment of nanomaterials.

The GreenFacts Three-Level Structure used to communicate this SCENIHR Opinion is copyrighted by Cogeneris SPRL.