Nanotech dream will turn to ashes without regulation, says MEP

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology’s promise will ‘crumble to ashes’ if regulation doesn’t ensure products are safe before reaching the market, according to a Swedish MEP.

Carl Schlyter, from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, is calling for nano-specific regulation and is critical of the Commission which has not yet provided it.

Regarding the Commission’s review that says, in general, current legislation is satisfactory but implementation should be improved, Schlyter is sceptical.

“The Commission’s analysis is based on a one-dimensional, legalistic overview of the current rules but those rules are about as effective in addressing nanotechnology as trying to catch plankton with a cod fishing net,”​ reads the report.

He calls on the Commission to introduce a REACH-like, ‘no data, no market’ principle for all applications of nanomaterials in consumer products or those leading to discharges in the environment.

In other words, if a company cannot prove that its use of nanomaterials pose no threat to human health or the environment, its products should not be on the market.

Industry stands to benefit

For Schlyter clearer legislation will also benefit industry.

“Nano-specific legislation will give the industry a more concrete view of what constitutes a nanomaterial, and what scientific data they need to provide,”​ he told CosmeticsDesign.

If concrete nano-specific legislation is not introduced, companies may be asked to provide more safety information late in a product’s development, not only is this difficult for a company to manage, it is not always transparent, he explained.

Definition difficulties

Schlyter also criticises the lack of an accepted definition for a nanoparticle, saying the current REACH definition is not specific enough.

“This leaves it up to companies to register the compound in whatever way they see fit,” ​he said.

The MEP is calling for nanoparticles to be defined as any material in the order ​of 100nm, or materials whose properties have been significantly changed due to their size. (According to Schlyter this has been seen in materials up to 300nm.)

Schlyter’s draft report will be discussed by the European Parliament and a final report released mid April.

Related topics: Formulation & Science, Nanotechnology

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