Nanotechnologies have enormous potential benefits for manufacturers, consumers, employees, patients and the environment. Products containing MNs are already being mass-produced in areas such as food, electronics and cosmetics. Huge investments are dedicated to their development, which may lead to considerable release of MNs in the environment, potentially toxic for human health. Nanotoxicology is thus attracting the attention of the public and governments worldwide. However, the political debate on regulating nanotechnologies has only recently begun. The lack of scientific knowledge and absence of evidence of the health and safety hazards of nanotechnology products make regulation very difficult.

There is further need for research and international cooperation for risk assessment of MNs and for long-term risks in particular. Among the chemical substances commercialized on the European market few have been fully analysed regarding their toxicity. The current EU legislation framework, and REACH in particular "covers in principle the potential health, safety and environmental risks in relation to nanomaterials" the Commission concluded on 17 June 2008. However, it states that "current legislation may have to be modified in the light of new information becoming available". With REACH and since carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic ( CMR) substances in classes 1 or 2 are restricted in consumer products , priority is given to assess CMR risks of chemical substances . Moreover, the European Parliament's resolution on combating cancer in the enlarged EU (April 2008) is considered by the European Commission as a major contribution to the ongoing national efforts to prevent cancer. To reach a safe, sustainable and integrated development of nanotechnologies, an industrial sector with huge economical and strategic power, it is highly important to reassure the public regarding CMR risks linked to the most widely used MNs.

The OECD WPMN published a list of representative MNs for testing picto-target. It concerns MNs which are now or soon to be commercialised and are widely used on the market. Titanium and silicon dioxide are on the list according to their high production tonnage and because of their use in many daily consumer products.

Currently, many uncertainties remain concerning the nano forms; risks are, at the moment, considered within the frame of those known for standard chemicals. The JA will strive to test the genotoxic hazard of these materials, focusing on their most important usages such as food, tyre and cosmetics for titanium and silicon dioxide. Even in the case of these "older" products, it is necessary to test them, with new and appropriate test methods adapted to nanomaterials. In the case of carbon nanotubes, knowledge is greatly lacking, and therefore all usages will be tested. For those reasons, 4 silicon dioxide products will be tested, 5 titanium dioxide and 7 carbon nanotubes available on the market will be tested.

This work will be complementary to the OECD sponsorship programme for testing of MNs.

Some isolated studies on toxicity already exist, particularly for titanium dioxide, but without possibilities to compare results, therefore, risk assessment is difficult. As highlighted in the January 2009 SCENIHR opinion on the Risk assessment of products of nanotechnologies  picto-target  there is at the moment no tool available.

dossier Complementarities between the JA and other projects will be sought throughout the life-time of the JA, and can already be seen with the following:

puce-ronde NANOSTRAND picto-target – Standardization related to Research and Development for Nanotechnologies (Jan 2006 to 2008): analytical detection methods, measurement, dosages.

puce-ronde NANOSAFE2 picto-target - Safe production and use of nanomaterials (April 2005 to 2009): hazard characterization, toxicological methods.

puce-ronde NANOSH picto-target - Inflammatory and genotoxic effects of engineered nanomaterials (Nov 2006to 2009): occupational exposure to nanoparticles and their health effects.

puce-ronde NANOINTERACT picto-target – Development of platform and toolkit for understanding interactions between nanoparticles and the living world (Jan 2007 to 2010): assessment of nanoparticle-physiological systems.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 15:23