EC wants public discussion on nanotechnology

July 21, 2008 — A stable, reliable regulatory framework is essential to advancing the R&D of nanotechnologies, European Commission (EC) vice president Gunter Verheugen said as the commission initiated a public dialogue on nanotech safety and the best way to apply existing laws to nanotech products entering the market.

While existing EU legislation provides a starting point for addressing public health and environmental concerns about nanotechnologies, the commission cites a need for more research and international cooperation in the field. With the proper regulatory structures in place, nanotechnologies could “usher in a new age of customized pharmaceuticals and medical procedures,” the commission says in a statement.
The consultation is intended to raise awareness about the potential benefits of nanotechnologies while ensuring the public and environment are protected from adverse effects that may arise from exposure to nanotech products.

A 2006 report by the Scientific Committee for Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks says existing toxicological and eco-toxicological tests may not be adequate to address the potential risks from nanoparticles, adding that risk-assessment procedures would need to be modified because of the novel nature of the materials.

The consultation “underlines the need for improved routine monitoring devices and better data on toxic and eco-toxic effects, and improved test methods to generate such data,” the commission says.
Currently in the EU, nanotechnologies are covered by the REACH (registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals) legislation and product-specific laws on medical devices, medicines, food, cosmetics and other products. Those laws and the standards and technical guidelines that support them may have to be amended as new information on nanomaterials becomes available, the commission says.


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