EU makes moves to improve public confidence in nanotechnology

The first European repository of nanomaterials has been launched to support safety assessments and promote consumer confidence in nanotech based products


The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has launched the first European repository of nanomaterials containing 25 different types of nanomaterials. This will support safety assessments, which will help to ensure consumer protection and confidence in applications and products based on these materials.

The repository will make it possible to carry out harmonised risk assessment, ensuring standardised methodologies and materials are available, and making it possible to obtain test results that are consistent with tests carried out worldwide. The repository will also provide reliable data for policy and regulatory decision making.

The repository was set up by the JRC in response to needs for safety-assessment testing from experts in the major international standardisation bodies. It contains most types of nanomaterials currently used in significant volumes in consumer products.

Some 8,000 test samples have already been distributed to European national authorities, and EU-funded research projects, and have also been used in international scientific co-operation initiatives. The nanomaterials in the repository are produced in collaboration with the German Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology under Good Laboratory Practice conditions. The 25 types of material include carbon nanotubes, silver nanoparticles, titanium dioxide, cerium oxide, zinc oxide, bentonite, gold and silicon dioxide.

At the official launch of the repository this week, Elke Anklam, Director of the JRC Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP), said, “This unique repository fosters standardisation in safety assessment and facilitates innovation by creating a common and consistent measurement framework for all stakeholders. This will both support international harmonisation bodies for standardising risk assessment as well as EU policy makers for regulatory issues.”

Nanomaterials may offer a range of benefits over traditional materials and enable the development of new applications and products. The JRC says for European industry to capitalise on nanotechnologies, it is essential that the EU has a well-considered regulatory framework covering issues related to safe practices in the manufacturing process, consumer health, and protection of the environment.

Such a framework depends on harmonised and science based risk assessment. In order to ensure the comparability of the underlying data obtained in the many international test laboratories, the availability of representative reference nanomaterials is essential. 

More information on JRC activities in nanotechnology:

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Related subjects: European Commission

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