A report entitled ‘Nanomaterials in the Environment: Current State of Knowledge and Regulations on Chemical Safety’ was published by the German Environmental Agency last month.
The report begins with a summary of the current state of knowledge on the release, behavior, persistence and effects of nanomaterials in the environment. The second half of the report outlines the German Environmental Agencies perspective on the development of chemicals regulations for nanomaterials with regard to the environment. It considers general regulatory aspects that need consideration such as the definition of nanomaterials, their required characterization, and risk assessment. This includes highlighting the regulatory deficits and current need to adapt existing legislation for these novel materials.
In the report summary, the German Environmental Agency concludes that:
“…nanoscale forms of a substance [do not] necessarily constitute a hazard or risk. However, nanomaterials have specific properties that distinguish them from other chemicals. The knowledge about characteristics, behavior, and effects of nanomaterials gained guiding the last years allow …[the identification of]… which aspects are needed for the testing and assessment of their environmental risks and have to be reflected in [their] regulatory requirements.”
The German Environmental Agencies recommendations for a chemical safety framework for nanomaterials include:
- implementing a harmonized definition of a nanomaterial
- implementing nano-specific requirements in the regulations on chemicals safety, in particular in REACH
- continue to adapt guidelines and models for hazard and risk assessment to suit nanomaterials
- continue to adapt techniques, test guidelines and guidance documents for environmental risk assessment of nanomaterials
- continue to standardize methods for nanomaterial characterization
- develop substance groups and analogue concepts for nanomaterials to reduce testing requirements
- use such information for classification of nanomaterials in hazard classes and categories
- set up a register of products containing nanomaterials at the European level; especially since current chemical safety legislations do not cover these materials