On June 3, 2021, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) published an interview with Aurélie Niaudet, who is in charge of assessing the risks associated with physical agents. Niaudet states that nanomaterials have novel properties that “are highly sought after and increasingly exploited, but can also induce specific types of behaviour when interacting with humans or the environment.” After the human body is exposed, “there is then the question of the distribution and possible accumulation of these nanomaterials in the various organs.” According to Niaudet, “assessing the risks associated with nanomaterials involves three steps: agreeing on criteria for defining them, describing the main types of exposure, and understanding their behaviour and effects.” As reported in our previous blog items, ANSES’s work on nanomaterials has addressed titanium dioxide and nano silver, and recently included a review of the presence of engineered nanomaterials in food. ANSES also manages the R-Nano register and published an analysis in 2020 that “highlighted the poor quality of the reported data and led ANSES to issue recommendations to declaring companies and to the ministries to consolidate this register and increase its usefulness.” ANSES also coordinates the National Research Program for Environmental and Occupational Health, funding research on the effects and environmental fate of nanomaterials, as well as on monitoring population exposure.

To protect people, Niaudet recommends that, in addition to strengthening the regulatory framework, “it is also important to limit exposure of the population and the environment as a precautionary measure, by choosing safe products that are equally effective but free of nanomaterials.” Niaudet states that ANSES “reiterates its recommendation to restrict the use of products containing nanomaterials that are of little benefit to the population.”