The objective is to allow for innovation but also to identify and reduce risks at an early stage. The SRU holds the view that the regulation of nanomaterials is in urgent need of reform and calls for more transparency with regard to the use of nanomaterials in consumer products.
Nanomaterials offer numerous new opportunities for innovation but they can also pose new risks. Nanomaterials are now used in many different economic sectors and increasingly also in consumer products such as cosmetics, textiles, and food packaging. The possible consequences of this use have not been sufficiently studied. There is a danger of a widening gap between the technological development and the knowledge about risks.
“The precautionary principle must consistently be applied to nanomaterials. This is required from the point of view of constitutional law and useful to retain trust in the new technology”, says Prof Christian Calliess, the SRU’s legal expert. In some areas of chemicals and product regulation, state action is only justified if there is scientific evidence of harm,” says Prof Calliess. “As soon as there is a justified cause for concern there is a need to act on the basis of the precautionary principle and to weigh up the risks against the opportunities.” This would, however, require numerous changes in the law.
The chemicals, product and environmental regulations are generally applicable to nanomaterials and nanoproducts. In practice, however, the specific characteristics of nanomaterials can impede the effectiveness of some legal instruments. In the registration of chemicals and the authorisation of products, for instance, nanomaterials are not always treated and therefore assessed separately from the bulk substance.
The SRU considers it important that these regulatory gaps are closed as quickly as possible. This would require a uniform definition for nanomaterials, their treatment as separate substances in chemicals risk assessments and the obligation for manufacturers to submit data sets specifically adapted to nanomaterials.
The toxicologist of the SRU, Prof Heidi Foth, emphasises that general statements about the risks of nanomaterials are inappropriate: “On current knowledge, some materials raise no concern, while others pose potential risks.” Activities which in SRU’s opinion pose a certain cause of concern are, in particular, the use of nanomaterials in consumer sprays, the growing sales of consumer products containing silver nanoparticles and the production and processing of carbon nanotubes, which are suspected to be carcinogenic - especially those with a high aspect ratio.
Public authorities and consumers do not always know which nanomaterials are used in which products. The SRU considers it necessary to increase transparency. This would enable authorities to respond quickly if they receive new evidence of risks to human health or the environment. Consumers should generally be given a freedom of choice. The SRU therefore recommends a register for products containing nanomaterials and an extension of existing labelling obligations.
For further information, please contact Christian Hey on +49 (0)30-26 36 96-0, firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) was founded in 1971 to advise the German government. The Council is made up of seven university professors from a range of different environment-related disciplines. This ensures an encompassing and independent evaluation from a natural scientific and technical as well as from an economic, legal and political science perspective.
Prof. Dr. Miranda Schreurs, Freie Universität Berlin
Christian Simon | idw
Signaling Pathways to the Nucleus
19.03.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
In monogamous species, a compatible partner is more important than an ornamented one
19.03.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.
Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
08.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Trade Fair News
19.03.2018 | Life Sciences
19.03.2018 | Life Sciences