Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.
In a previous post, I argued that the European Union's REACH Regulation for chemicals goes a long way to address the regulatory needs for nanomaterials – despite the fact that REACH never mentions nano and was not developed with nano in mind. I also noted, however, that REACH will clearly need more than fine-tuning to ensure adequate nano oversight. Apparently at least some in the European Parliament agree.
Just this week, the Environment Committee of the European Parliament approved a report calling for a nano-specific review and updating of REACH. (See the amendments that were adopted this week to the January draft report.)
Most notable is the report's call to extend the "no data, no market" cornerstone of REACH to nanomaterials – meaning that nanomaterials could not enter or remain on the market absent provision by their producers of at least basic information to assess their safety.
The report also calls for the development under REACH of nano-specific definitions, testing and assessment protocols, and data requirements. And it argues for labeling of products containing nanomaterials.
The report comes not long after the European Commission issued its own recommendations for how to address nanomaterials under REACH. While the Commission noted numerous challenges – most notably, the dearth of safety data and the difficulty of applying current risk assessment methodology – it argued that REACH addresses the potential risks of nanomaterials "in principle." Looking at the same basic problems, the Parliament report reaches the opposite conclusion: that REACH cannot in its current form adequately address nanomaterials.
Changes to REACH that the Parliament committee recommends include requiring:
- a simplified registration for nanomaterials manufactured or imported (with a threshold based on e.g. surface activity instead of tonnage), providing core data on physico-chemical properties as well as toxicological and ecotoxicological effects,
- a chemical safety report with exposure assessment for all registered nanomaterials, irrespective of hazard identification, and
- notification for all nanomaterials placed on the market on their own, in preparations or in articles irrespective of tonnage and concentration thresholds.