Nanomaterials are already being used in hundreds of applications and consumer products ranging from toothpaste to batteries, paints and clothing. Developing these innovative substances is an important driver for European competitiveness, and they have significant potential for progress in areas like medicine, environment protection and energy efficiency.
However, it is possible that some of the properties that make nanomaterials desirable for certain applications, such as the ability to cross biological barriers and the high surface reactivity are also those that may give rise to toxicity.
In order to reduce the many uncertainties about the potential impact of nanomaterials on health and to support the development of a sound regulatory framework, the joint EASAC-JRC report makes a number of recommendations to stakeholders and policy makers.
The publication of the report coincides with today’s adoption by the European Commission of a Recommendation on a definition of nanomaterial, based on scientific advice from the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) and the JRC. This fulfils one of the recommendations of the report, which was a call for a precise definition of nanomaterials. Authors also call for the harmonisation of test protocols and the need for regulators and researchers to work together in identifying priorities. Knowledge on nanospecific properties should be used to minimise risk by applying the principle of “safety-by-design”. Moreover, the report highlights that the development of new generations of nanomaterials will require an even stronger interdisciplinary collaboration between scientists.