On December 3, 2020, a workshop will be held on “Creating a NanoRisk Governance Council:  Stakeholder evaluation and feedback.”  The workshop is aimed at working with stakeholders to obtain their feedback on the services and on the four scenarios being discussed for the establishment of the proposed NanoRisk Governance Council.  The workshop will comprise a plenary session plus up to four breakout sessions.  Some information about the scenarios will be provided prior to the event.  The workshop is a joint event between projects Gov4Nano, NANORIGO, and RiskGone.

The European Union (EU) Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON) announced on November 16, 2020, the results of a study on how citizens perceive nanomaterials and their potential risks to human health and the environment.  According to EUON, the study found that general awareness about the nature, characteristics, and properties of nanomaterials is low.  EUON notes that the level of awareness has increased compared to earlier surveys, however, and is expected to continue increasing in the future.  EUON states that the results confirm that concerns often correlate with a lack of awareness of nanomaterials.  The majority of respondents (87%) indicated that they want to know if a product contains nanomaterials and that it would be “particularly important” for this information to be included on product labels for food and food-related products, medicines, cosmetics, clothing and textiles, toys, and detergents or household products.

EUON states that the “key recommendation” is “to increase European citizens’ awareness of nanomaterials, including their benefits and risks, to ensure the public can make informed choices.”  This can be done by sharing information and communicating the benefits and safety aspects of nanomaterials.  The study also recommends expanding the survey from Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, France, and Poland to all 27 EU member states.  It outlines a need for further research to determine the most appropriate type of product labeling and whether existing labeling requirements would need to be revised.

On November 19, 2020, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a report entitled “Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) of the application of nanoscience and nanotechnology in the food and feed chain.”  The authors analyzed existing ERA guidance documents for their adequacy to cover issues that are specific for nanomaterials, but note that none of the guidance has a specific focus on the food and feed chain.  Each nanospecific issue was addressed by briefly reviewing the existing methods to address the issue in each separate step of ERA.  The report suggests adaptations necessary in exposure assessment and hazard and risk characterization to address nanomaterials.  The report lists the following issues that should be addressed in preparing ERA guidance of the application of nanoscience and nanotechnology in the food and feed chain:

  • Collaboration with other European Union (EU) agencies that face similar tasks in updating their ERA guidance for nanomaterials, such as the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), as well as with method developments in organizations like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to prevent duplication of work and contradictory recommendations in ERA guidance for nanomaterials;
  • Environmental exposure scenarios and models, including their computational implementation for modeling of fate and release, are an essential part of ERA of nanomaterials, meaning that either the existing scenarios and models need to be adapted, or new models need implementation for use with products containing nanomaterials;
  • Development of standardized approaches for conducting exposure and hazard assessment for nanomaterials in benthic and terrestrial environments is lagging behind the developments for the pelagic environment;
  • The aim of applying a nanomaterial formulation needs to be taken into account in its efficacy testing;
  • Dose metrics other than the mass-based metrics commonly used for soluble chemicals are needed for nanomaterials. Metrics based on particle number or surface area may be more informative for fate and hazards of nanomaterials; and
  • Several of the default/shortcut values currently used in lower tiers of ERA need revision where they are derived on the basis of diffusion or thermodynamic equilibrium-based approaches. Several approaches for revision are available for nanomaterials.

Registration is now open for the National Nanotechnology Initiative’s (NNI) 2021 NNI Strategic Planning Stakeholder Workshop:  Charting the Path Forward, which will be held January 11-13, 2021.  NNI states that over the past 20 years, it has supported nanotechnology discovery, development, and deployment and has nurtured the strong ecosystem that exists today.  Building on this foundation, nanoscience will underpin a wide range of advanced technologies and enable solutions to challenges into the future.  As NNI enters its third decade, conversations at the January 2021 workshop will identify effective mechanisms to advance research and development, strategies for communication, and priority topics to shape future directions.

On November 10, 2020, the Senate Committee on Appropriations released 12 fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations bills and explanatory statements.  The bill for the Department of the Interior, environment, and related agencies includes funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The explanatory statement for the bill includes language regarding nanomaterials research at EPA and states:

The Committee notes the increased capabilities that the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has developed to study environment, health, and safety of nanomaterials [nanoEHS] within FDA’s Jefferson Laboratory Campus, including the National Center for Toxicological Research, and its consolidated headquarters at White Oak, Maryland.  The FDA can and should be more involved in nanoEHS research with other agencies, particularly in activities involving human health.  Out of the amounts appropriated, the Administrator shall seek to involve the FDA in nanoEHS research to the maximum extent possible, including participation in EPA-funded research.

On November 2, 2020, the European Commission (EC) requested a scientific opinion from the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) on the ultraviolet (UV) filter HAA299 (nano) (chemical name “2-(4-(2-(4-Diethylamino-2 hydroxy-benzoyl)-benzoyl)-piperazine-1-carbonyl)-phenyl)-(4-diethylamino-2-hydroxyphenyl)-methanone”).  According to the EC’s request, the applicant seeks to assess the safety of HAA299 (nano) for use as a UV filter up to a maximum concentration of 10%.  The EC asks SCCS:

  • In light of the data provided, does SCCS consider HAA299 (nano) safe when used as a UV filter in cosmetic products up to a maximum concentration of 10%;
  • In view of the previous SCCS opinion on HAA299 (SCCS/1533/14), which did not cover HAA299 composed of nanoparticles, does SCCS consider both non-nano and nano forms of HAA299 safe when used as UV filters in cosmetic products up to a maximum concentration of 10%;
  • In case SCCS finds HAA299 (nano) not safe, does it still uphold the conclusions of the SCCS/1533/14 opinion with regard to the safe use of HAA299 non-nano form; and
  • Does SCCS have any further scientific concerns on human health with regard to the use of HAA299 (nano) in cosmetic products.

The deadline for the scientific opinion is nine months.

On November 9, 2020, the European Commission (EC) Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) published two draft opinions for public comment.  In the preliminary opinion on hydroxyapatite (nano), SCCS considered whether the nanomaterial hydroxyapatite is safe when used in leave-on and rinse-off dermal and oral cosmetic products according to the reported maximum concentrations and specifications, taking into account reasonably foreseeable exposure conditions.  SCCS states that having considered the data provided, as well as other relevant information available in the scientific literature, it cannot conclude whether hydroxyapatite composed of rod-shaped nanoparticles for use in oral-care cosmetic products at the maximum concentrations and specifications is safe.  According to SCCS, this is because the available data and information are insufficient to exclude concerns over the genotoxic potential of hydroxyapatite (nano).  The EC also asked if SCCS has any further scientific concerns with regard to the use of hydroxyapatite in nano form in cosmetic products.  SCCS responded that although its preliminary opinion considers rod-shaped hydroxyapatite nanoparticles, it is aware that needle-shaped hydroxyapatite nanoparticles may also be produced.  SCCS states that the available information indicates that hydroxyapatite nanoparticles in needle-shaped form are of concern in relation to potential toxicity and should not be used in cosmetic products.

In the preliminary opinion for copper (nano) and colloidal copper (nano), SCCS states that it is unable to carry out a safety assessment of the nanomaterials copper and colloidal copper when used in leave-on and rinse-off dermal and oral cosmetic products, including skin, nail and cuticle, hair and scalp, and oral hygiene products, at a maximum concentration of one percent.  According to SCCS, it considered all the information provided by the notifiers and is of the opinion that it is not possible to carry out a safety assessment of the nanomaterials copper and colloidal copper due to the limited or missing essential information.  SCCS notes that much of the information provided on toxicity relates to copper as such, and in the absence of full study reports, it is not possible to determine the relevance of the data for nanoforms of copper under the current evaluation.  The EC asked whether SCCS has any further scientific concerns with regard to the use of copper and colloidal copper in nanoform in cosmetic products.  SCCS states that the information provided by the notifiers and obtained from the scientific literature suggests possible systemic uptake of copper nanoparticles (and/or ionic copper), which may lead to accumulation in certain organs.  In addition, according to SCCS, the available literature indicates potential mutagenic/genotoxic and immunotoxic/nephrotoxic effects of copper nanomaterials, raising an alert that warrants further safety evaluation of copper nanomaterials used as cosmetic ingredients.

Comments on both preliminary opinions are due January 4, 2021.

The Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization (SNO) and the Nanotechnology, Occupational and Environmental Health (NanOEH) Committee have partnered to present the 9th NANO Conference.  This conference combines the interests of SNO and NanOEH by offering a virtual program containing sessions that are of interest to both groups.

SNO is a permanent non-profit corporation that provides the infrastructure to carry out its mission of research, education, and responsibility related to both sustainability and nanotechnology.  The NanOEH Committee focuses on a conference that serves the occupational and environmental health communities involved with nanotechnology.  The 9th NANO Conference provides a synergy between SNO and the Committee to provide high-quality professional presentations of interest to scientists and engineers focusing on the interaction between technical advances and societal, occupational, and environmental impacts as well as sustainability in the field of nanotechnology research.

The full conference program is available online.

Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is co-chair of the Risk Governance/Global Challenge session, with Sally Tinkle from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, Ulla Birgitte Vogel of the National Research Centre for the Working Environment (NFA), and Alba Graciela Avila Bernal from Universidad de los Andes.

Industry, academic, and government speakers will present on many other topics, including:

  • Smart Nanosensors for Rapid Screening of Emerging Viral Pathogens;
  • Green and Advanced Synthetic Materials and Manufacturing;
  • Nanotoxicology and Human Health Risk Assessment; and
  • Sustainable Water Treatment and Remediation.

Register now!


According to the Toxics Use Reduction Institute’s (TURI) website, the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) Program in Massachusetts has received a petition to list carbon nanotubes (both single-walled and multi-walled) and carbon nanofibers.  The TURA Science Advisory Board (SAB) is beginning the process of reviewing these substances and seeks additional information from stakeholders.  SAB’s primary role is to consider petitions to add or delete chemicals from the TURA list and make recommendations to TURI accordingly.

Massachusetts enacted TURA in 1989.  TURA established a Toxic or Hazardous Substance List, often referred to as the TURA list.  Companies subject to TURA are required to file an annual Toxics Use Report that identifies:

  • Every TURA-listed chemical the company manufactures, processes, or otherwise uses above applicable thresholds;
  • All production processes and products that use one or more listed chemicals; and
  • The amount of each listed chemical generated as byproduct (wasted), shipped in product, and released to the environment.

On October 27, 2020, the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative published the National Nanotechnology Initiative Supplement to the President’s 2021 Budget (Supplement), which serves as the annual report for NNI, called for under the provisions of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act.  According to the Supplement, the President’s 2021 budget requests more than $1.7 billion for NNI, with an increased investment in the foundational research intended to lead to discoveries that will advance a wide range of areas.  Cumulatively totaling more than $31 billion (including the 2021 request), the Supplement states that “this support reflects the importance of investments that advance the fundamental understanding of and ability to control matter at the nanoscale, as well as the translation of that knowledge into technological breakthroughs that benefit the American people.”  The Supplement notes that past research has led to applications in areas as diverse as consumer electronics, energy, water purification, aerospace, automotive, infrastructure, sporting goods, textiles, agriculture, and medicine.  Current efforts are using nanotechnology in the development of vaccine candidates, sensors for testing strategies, and preventive measures such as masks, filters, and antimicrobial coatings.

According to the Supplement, the NNI investments in 2019 and 2020 and those proposed in 2021 reflect a sustained emphasis on broad, fundamental research in nanoscience.  The President’s Budget includes nanotechnology investments intended to further the progress of NNI “to advance a world-class research portfolio, facilitate commercialization of nanotechnology-enabled applications, support a dynamic infrastructure and skilled workforce, and ensure responsible development of nanotechnology.”  The Supplement states that these efforts “underpin key Industries of the Future by, for example, using artificial intelligence (AI) to design nanostructured materials, devices, and systems; developing specialized nanoscale computing hardware for AI systems; utilizing the NNI infrastructure and atomically precise nanoscale methods to manufacture quantum components for sensing, communication, and computing; and enabling sustainable nanomanufacturing such as cellular nanobiomanufacturing.”