ICCM3 Adds Measures Concerning Nanotechnologies And Manufactured Nanomaterials To Global Plan Of Action

During the Third International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM3), which was held September 17-21, 2012, participants agreed to add the measures concerning nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials to the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) Global Plan of Action. The measures include “exploring the development of registers/inventories and/or market assessment activities of manufactured nanomaterials,” and “promoting the availability of information on the presence of manufactured nanomaterials within the product supply chain and throughout the life cycle, which could include possible labelling, consistent with relevant international obligations, and/or other forms of guidance relating to consumer products containing manufactured nanomaterials.” Participants also agreed to a resolution to continue work on manufactured nanomaterials as an “emerging policy issue” under SAICM, and to develop international technical and regulatory guidance and training materials for their sound management.  The Resolution invites the United Nations (UN) Committees of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) to review the applicability of the GHS criteria to manufactured nanomaterials and, if necessary, to prepare a work plan for adapting them.

FAO/WHO Release Draft Paper on Risk Assessment and Risk Management of Nanotechnologies for Comment

The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) have released a draft paper entitled State of the art on the initiatives and activities relevant to risk assessment and risk management of nanotechnologies in the food and agriculture sectors for comment. FAO and WHO commissioned the paper with the objective of summarizing and analyzing the information that has become available since their 2009 expert meeting and determining possible courses of action. The draft paper reviews national and international activities on the risk analysis of nanomaterials in the food and agriculture sectors that have been carried out since the meeting. It presents national and international risk assessment and risk management approaches that identify and implement strategies to address potential hazards associated with the use of nanotechnology-related products or techniques. Information on relevant regulations and risk assessment activities was gathered from the websites of 16 national and international institutions, organizations, and governments. Information on actual and planned uses of nanomaterials resulting in human exposure through food or food packaging/contact materials since 2009 was collected from a variety of sources, including the scientific literature, websites, patent databases, market analysis reports, and material presented at conferences, workshops, and symposia. Comments are due November 30, 2012.

U.S. Delegation May Present Nanotechnology Guidance at UN GHS Subcommittee Meeting

The U.S. delegation to the July 4-6, 2012, meeting of the United Nations (UN) Subcommittee of Experts on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is considering presenting an information paper on how to classify nanomaterials under the GHS. According to Kathy Landkrohn, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Directorate of Standards and Guidance, the paper would be presented under a work group examining the types of physical and chemical properties listed on safety data sheets (SDS). Landkrohn stated that a lack of data has impeded the work group’s ability to create a separate hazard class for nanomaterials.

ETC Group Posts Report on Global Governance of Nanoscale Technologies

On December 17, 2010, ETC Group published a report entitled The Big Downturn?  Nanogeopolitics, which updates its 2005 nanogeopolitics survey. According to ETC Group, since 2005, policymakers have begun to acknowledge that fast-tracking nanotechnology has come at a price and that some sort of regulation is necessary to address at least some of the risks posed.  ETC Group states, though, that “governments and industry, hand in hand, have come too far and invested too much to give up on nanotech’s promise of becoming the strategic platform for global control of manufacturing, food, agriculture and health -- a pillar of the 21st century’s ‘green economy.’”  ETC Group provides an update on the geopolitical landscape, producing a current snapshot of global investment, markets, governance, and control, including intellectual property. ETC Group is hopeful that the risks of nanotechnology will be addressed in fora such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) XIX World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in Istanbul in September 2011 and the United Nations (UN) Rio+20 Summit in 2012.

ETC Group Issues Report on Nanogeopolitics

Earlier this month, in advance of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) July 15-17, 2009, Conference on Potential Environmental Benefits of Nanotechnology: Fostering Safe Innovation-Led Growth, the Action Group on Erosion, Technology, and Concentration (ETC Group) issued a draft report entitled Nanogeopolitics 2009:  The Second Survey.  ETC Group recommends that policies concerning nanotechnologies be developed within the United Nations (UN) system, “where all nations can have a say about the technology and where the so-called nano-nations will come clean with everybody else about what they are doing to the economy and the environment.” The report is a follow up to the ETC Group’s 2005 survey of “the nanogeopolitical landscape.”  In the report, ETC Group reviews:  (1) the extent to which the “markets and players” have shifted position since 2005, especially in terms of research and funding; (2) the effectiveness of various governance and regulation; and (3) recommended action to regulate better and develop responsibly nanotechnology.

UN Committee Will Discuss Ongoing Work on the Safety of Nanomaterials

During the June 29-July 1, 2009, meeting of the United Nations (UN) Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Substances (GHS), the Committee will discuss a paper entitled “Ongoing Work on the Safety of Nanomaterials.” The paper provides a summary of current activities by the European Union (EU), including the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) program, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The paper includes the following questions:

  • Can it be considered, for the same chemical (same [Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Number] and purity) that nanomaterials with new properties have the same hazards as conventional form?
  • Is it possible to distinguish for a same chemical, the properties of its different nanoforms?
  • How can this be done? Should new endpoints be determined?
  • To which extent information about nanomaterials need be provided?
  • What kind of information is needed?
  • What kind of communication tool is needed for this purpose?
  • What kind of collaboration can be suggested in order to contribute to clarification of nanomaterials hazard classification and indeed to heath safety and environmental issues of nanomaterials?