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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

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.

About EASAC

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.

 

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Watch our video "Small materials, big impact"
 

The video, issued in October 2011, illustrates JRC activities in support to safety assessment of nanomaterials in consumer products.

Watch it on You Tube, JRC channel