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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

ANSES's "Nanomaterials and health" dialogue committee set up on 21 November 2012

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News of 21/11/2012

The potential impact of manufactured nanomaterials on health is an emerging risk. In 2012, ANSES decided to assign this topic as one of the priorities of its work programme and to create a plan for globally apprehending the health questions raised by nanomaterials. To this end, the Agency has set up a "Nanomaterials and health" expert group in order to monitor the scientific advances in this area as they occur. In addition to this expert group, ANSES has also set up a "Nanomaterials and health" dialogue committee whose mission is to provide information to the Agency regarding the expectations of society in this area with regard to risk assessment and research. Its first meeting was held today.

With regard to emerging risks, some of the most important challenges for health involve the development, use and dispersion of manufactured nanomaterials. In response to these issues, the Agency has produced and initiated a considerable amount of expertise work on knowledge concerning food, environmental and professional exposure to nanomaterials and their consequences. Faced with the swift pace of publication and research on this topic, ANSES wished to adopt a system for globally apprehending this issue, as it did in 2011 for radiofrequencies.

In order to conduct its collective expertise work in the area of nanomaterials, ANSES has been supported since September 2012 by the permanent working group on "Nanomaterials and health – food, environment and work". Two of the main goals of this multidisciplinary group is to provide permanent scientific monitoring and to draft an annual report on current knowledge of the hazards, exposures and health and environmental risks linked to nanomaterials for all their various uses.

ANSES also launches a Call for Research Projects each year in Environmental and Occupational Health (APR-EST) in support of research projects in this domain.

Faced with the scientific uncertainties and societal questioning caused by the potential health risks of nanomaterials, ANSES decided to set up a dialogue committee on "Nanomaterials & health" in addition to its activities in risk assessment and research promotion.

This committee, which is made up of the major stakeholders in the domain of nanomaterials - associations, trade unions, businesses and industry federations - is tasked with informing the Agency on societal expectations. Its twenty or so participants were selected through a public call for expression of interest.

This body aspires to be a forum for sharing, discussion and information exchange on scientific topics concerning the potential health effects of nanomaterials as well as their assessment.

The dialogue committee's attachment to ANSES provides input for work guidelines, both for the Scientific Committee in charge of the Environmental and Occupational Health research programme and the expert groups working on these topics. The committee will convene two to four times a year. Its first meeting was held today. The committee's chairmanship has been entrusted to Mr. Jean-Pierre TIFFON, specialist in dialogue and public debate, who will act in this capacity on a voluntary basis.