Nanomaterials are made up of structures at least one of whose dimensions is between approximately 1 and 100 nanometres, thus giving them very unusual physical, chemical or biological properties.
More and more uses are now being found for nanomaterials, since they are suitable for many innovative applications, especially in the industrial sector and in health products. The potential health hazards related to the development of manufactured nanomaterials is recognised as an important emerging risk. See the Agency’s work in this area.
Among the many available manufactured nanomaterials, carbon nanotubes are of particular interest because of their wide range of potential industrial applications and their exceptional properties. However, there is concern regarding the toxicity of some of these nanotubes. In 2007, the Agency received a formal request to perform an expert appraisal of the risk assessment for nanostructured materials, particularly those with carbon nanotubes in their composition. A research and development programme has been launched with the aim of creating a manufacturing sector for these materials. Financial support for this programme is partially subject to the requirement for the industrial consortium to provide an assessment of the health and environmental risks associated with manufactured carbon nanotubes. The Agency has already published two opinions and a report on this topic. A third and final expert appraisal is planned for 2013.
The properties of manufactured nanomaterials pave the way for a great variety of promising technological developments. However, there are many uncertainties involved in making a quantitative assessment of the hazards of and exposures to nanomaterials, which will only be resolved gradually through progress in scientific knowledge of their properties and associated hazards.ANSES is applying considerable resources to addressing these issues, and in 2010 producedan expert report on the development of a control banding tool for specific risks in the case of nanomaterials.
Assessment of the risks associated with nanomaterials for the general population, workers and the environment
Nanomaterials are made up of structures at least one of whose dimensions is between 1 and 100 nanometres, thus giving them very unusual physico-chemical properties. More and more uses are now being found for nanomaterials as a result of their very particular physical, chemical or biological properties, making them suitable for many innovative applications, especially in the industrial sector and health products. The potential health hazard related to the development of manufactured nanomaterials is recognised as an important emerging risk. Since 2006, the Agency has published several reports backed by expert appraisals concerning health risks related to exposure via food, the environment and the workplace. In 2012, it also set up a mechanism to obtain an overview of the surrounding issues. Manufacturers have been able to use since 1 January 2013 the “R-Nano” website to declare nanomaterials in accordance with the current legislation. The agency is responsible for managing these declarations and data, and the first information resulting from these declarations will be made available to the public by the end of 2013.
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