It has been suggested by some that REACH’s application to nanoparticles and nanomaterials is unclear. While it is true that REACH does not specifically mention nanoparticles or nanoscale materials anywhere in its 800+ pages of text, we note that in December 2006, shortly after the regulation’s adoption by the European Parliament, the European Commission posted on its website a question-and-answer document that includes the following two exchanges:
Will the use of hazardous substances be restricted or banned?
. . . Both the restriction and authorisation processes can also be applied to substances produced or imported in volumes below 1 tonne per year. This would for instance allow addressing risks from particles on a nano-scale. . . .
How will nanoparticles be treated under REACH?
Substances in the nano-scale fall under the scope of REACH and their health and environment properties must therefore be assessed following the provisions of this Regulation. However, methodologies for identifying hazards and evaluating risks of substances at the nano-scale need to be further refined over the next few years.
The European Commission is funding research projects to assess the health and environment impacts of nano particles under the 7th Research Framework Programme. It will also be necessary to carefully monitor over the next few years whether the [1 tonne per year] threshold for registration and the information requirements under REACH are adequate to address potential risks from particles on a nano-scale.
In view of this guidance, our view is that REACH does indeed apply to nanoparticles.