Safety of Nanomaterials: Joint Research Centre and European Academies Science Advisory Council present state-of-the-art report
The joint EASAC-JRC report makes a number of recommendations to stakeholders and policy makers
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During a joint event held in Brussels today, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) presented the findings of a joint report entitled "Impact of engineered nanomaterials on health: considerations for benefit-risk assessment" (for download, see below). The report summarises the state-of-the-art knowledge on the safety of engineered nanomaterials and concludes that there is only limited scientific evidence to suggest that nanomaterials present a risk for human health.
The presentation of the joint EASAC-JRC report took place on the occasion of the signature of an agreement towards closer cooperation between both organisations.
Nanomaterials are already being used in hundreds of applications and consumer products ranging from toothpaste to batteries, paints and clothing. Developing these innovative substances is an important driver for European competitiveness, and they have significant potential for progress in areas like medicine, environment protection and energy efficiency.
However, it is possible that some of the properties that make nanomaterials desirable for certain applications, such as the ability to cross biological barriers and the high surface reactivity are also those that may give rise to toxicity.
In order to reduce the many uncertainties about the potential impact of nanomaterials on health and to support the development of a sound regulatory framework, the joint EASAC-JRC report makes a number of recommendations to stakeholders and policy makers.
The publication of the report coincides with today's adoption by the European Commission of a Recommendation on a definition of nanomaterial, based on scientific advice from the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) and the JRC. This fulfils one of the recommendations of the report, which was a call for a precise definition of nanomaterials. Authors also call for the harmonisation of test protocols and the need for regulators and researchers to work together in identifying priorities. Knowledge on nanospecific properties should be used to minimise risk by applying the principle of "safety-by-design". Moreover, the report highlights that the development of new generations of nanomaterials will require an even stronger interdisciplinary collaboration between scientists.
About the JRC
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's in-house science service. Its mission is to provide customer-driven scientific and technical support for the conception, development, implementation and monitoring of European Union policies. The JRC serves the common interest of the Member States, while being independent of special interests, whether private or national.
The European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), built on its network of national science academies in Europe, is a key actor in providing independent, expert, evidence-based advice about the scientific aspects of public policy to those who work or influence the European Union policy-making process.
- Joint JRC-EASAC Report "Impact of engineered nanomaterials on health: considerations for benefit-risk assessment"
- Report Synopsis
- Joint EASAC-JRC press release (18 October 2011): 'JRC and EASAC sign agreement for closer cooperation - Joint report on safety aspects of nanomaterials published'
- European Commission (18 October 2011), Recommendation on the definition of nanomaterial (2011/696/EU), OJ L 275/38 of 20.10.2011
- European Commission press release (18 October 2011) (available in 22 languages): 'What is a "nanomaterial"? European Commission breaks new ground with a common definition'
- European Commission Memo (18 October 2011): 'Questions and answers on the Commission
Recommendation on the definition of nanomaterial'
Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), 'Opinion on the appropriateness of the risk assessment mehodology in accordance with the technical guidance documents for new and existing substances for assessing the risks of nanomaterials' (adopted on 21-22 July 2007)
- JRC-IHCP video (18 October 2011): 'Small materials, big impact' - JRC activities in support to safety assessment of nanomaterials in consumer products