The safety of manufactured nano-materials is addressed by OECD countries
As we are well aware of the fact that the definition and safety of nano-materials have no uniform worldwide standards the OECD has recommended to its Member Countries to apply existing and national chemical regulatory frameworks to manage the risks associated with manufactured nano-materials
The respective Recommendation was approved by the Organisation’s governing Council and it was noted that these frameworks and other management systems may need to be adapted to take into account the specific properties of manufactured nano-materials.
Manufactured nano-materials are chemical particles exhibiting new characteristics in contrast to the same material without nano-scale features. These novel features offer possibilities for new commercial applications, such as solar cells using silicon nano-crystals to achieve a higher efficiency. These also raise questions regarding potential unintended risks to humans and the environment. For example, new manufactured nano-materials have applications in sunscreens and cosmetics, thus the potential risk from their exposure to consumers needs to be carefully assessed and managed.
The OECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has been working since 2006 to develop approaches for risk assessment for manufactured materials that are of high quality, science based and internationally harmonised.
The Recommendation notes the importance of the OECD Test Guidelines for the £Safety Testing of Chemicals, concluding that many of the existing guidelines are also suitable for the safety assessment of nano-materials. At the same, it recognises that some guidelines have to be adapted to take into account the specific properties of nano-materials and respective work continues at OECD level.
An important consequence of this Recommendation is that much of the data collected as part of the safety assessment of nano-materials will fall within the scope of the OECD system for the Mutual Acceptance of Data (MAD) in the assessment of Chemicals. The OECD MAD is a multilateral agreement which saves governments and chemical producers around EUR 150 million every year by allowing the results of a variety of non-clinical safety tests done on chemicals and chemical products, such as industrial chemicals and pesticides, and now nano-materials, to be shared across OECD and other countries adhering to the system. Argentina, Brazil, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, as well as all OECD countries are full adherents to the MAD system, and Thailand is a provisional adherent.
The extension of the scope of MAD to nano-materials will considerably reduce the potential for non tariff trade barriers between countries when marketing manufactured nano-materials or products which include nano-materials which are on the market. There will be a review of the Recommendation in three year’s time to assess how it has been implemented in the 34 OECD member countries and those partner countries adhered to it, and under the motto better policies for better lives.