Trade union body calls for improved nano safety

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nanotechnology

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is calling for a
precautionary principle to be applied to nanotechnologies in order
to ensure worker safety.

The Confederation has set out a number of demands including an amendment to the Chemical Agents Directive and the application of REACH to nanomaterials. Uncertain safety profile ​According the ETUC, nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials hold significant potential however uncertainties surround their safety. As the use of manufactured nanomaterials grows the number of workers set to come into contact with the tiny particles will increase and the confederation is concerned that workers health might be at risk. "After the asbestos scandal, the EUTC finds it unacceptable that products should now be manufactured without their potential effects on human health and the environment being known unless a precautionary approach has been applied and made transparent to the workers,"​ said EUTC confederal secretary Joël Decaillon. In order to protect workers health the EUTC is calling for an amendment to the Chemical Agents Directive 98/24/EC which would involve employers implementing risk reduction measures for products not proven to be harmless. In addition, the confederation is calling for training and health surveillance for workers exposed to nanomaterials. 'No data, no market' ​Furthermore, the confederation believes REACH's 'no data, no market' principle should apply to nanometre forms of chemicals. This would mean that unless sufficient data can be provided to show that a nanomaterial has no negative effect on human health or the environment the chemical should not be present on the market. Even for substances that have already been registered under the REACH legislation, the EUTC believes that a further safety report must be produced for any material used in the nanoscale. The confederation also calls for a minimum of 15 per cent of public research budgets to be reserved for health and environmental aspects and to make health and safety at work a compulsory part of all research projects. EU public dialogue ​The announcement from the trade union confederation follows shortly after the European Commission announced plans to open a public dialogue on nanotechnology. Although details of exactly how the project will be organised remain undecided, the aim of the project is to boost public knowledge of the potential of the technology whilst allaying fears regarding its safety. EU spokesperson Ton Van Lierop told CosmeticsDesign that the commission wished to make sure legislation kept up with the development of the technology. "The legislation that is already in place is adequate and covers a wide range of industries, however we want to be sure that as the technology progresses the legislation develops alongside,"​ he said.

Related topics Formulation & Science

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