About this Publication on Nanomaterials
- Source for this Publication
- The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR)
- Background to the SCENIHR opinion on defining nanomaterials
- Specific questions put to the SCENIHR by the European Commission
1. Source for this Publication
The texts in level 3 are directly sourced from:
“Scientific Basis for the Definition of the Term nanomaterial”, a report produced in 2010 by the SCENIHR (Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks) of the European Commission.
Levels 1 and 2 were written by Dr Jon Turney.
2. The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR)
The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) is one of three independent non-food committees which gives scientific advice on consumer safety, public health and the environment. It was set up by the European Commission in 2004 to consider emerging risks arising from new technologies.
The SCENIHR addresses:
- questions concerning emerging or newly-identified risks;
- broad, complex or multi-disciplinary issues requiring a comprehensive assessment of risks to consumer safety or public health;
- related issues not covered by other Community risk- assessment bodies.
The Committee which produced this report had 16 members, and convened a working group of 5, assisted by advice from 5 additional external experts.
For further information on the SCENIHR see: http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/emerging/index_en.htm
3. Background to the SCENIHR opinion on defining nanomaterials
The committee has produced a number of previous reports on nanomaterials as part of the European effort to develop workable risk assessments for new products and processes using nanotechnology. They include an opinion on “The appropriateness of existing methodologies to assess the potential risks associated with engineered and adventitious products of nanotechnologies", produced after public consultation in 2006. A further report in 2009 examined “Risk Assessment of Products of Nanotechnologies”.
Alongside this work, the European Commission has been developing working definitions of nanomaterials, to ensure that regulation is consistent across fields and between countries. Earlier reports include an opinion from SCENIHR in 2007 on “The scientific aspects of the existing and proposed definitions relating to products of nanoscience and nanotechnologies”.
The Commission has now asked for clarification on the size ranges and other relevant characteristics of nanomaterials and how they can best be defined for regulatory use.
4. Specific questions put to the SCENIHR by the European Commission
In its report, the Committee was asked for advice on essential elements of a science-based working definition of nanomaterials.
This should take account of
- Reported size ranges and other characteristics like surface area and density
- Possible characteristics that may lead to nanomaterials showing different properties from larger scale materials
- The physical and chemical properties that materials may show as a result of being at the nanoscale or having a nanoscale structure, and;
- Whether there are any thresholds where such properties appear.