German safety regulators have apparently sought a major nanotechnology-related revision of the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). According to representatives of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the REACH one-metric-ton reporting threshold is too high and current rules classifying what constitutes a nano-feature are “insufficient.” BfR Toxicologist Ulrike Bernauer said, “Up to now, there are no clear statements about the requirement to characterize a material to prove it is a nanomaterial.” She also reportedly noted that toxicological and ecotoxicological testing requirements addressing nano-specific features have not been integrated into REACH.
Bernauer further said that revised joint proposals for amending REACH as to nanomaterials, submitted to the European Commission by Bfr, the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and Federal Environment Agency, could provide the foundation for a new proposal from the commission later this year. The joint proposals called for an annual 100-kilogram reporting threshold, and were intended to prepare REACH for rapid developments in this sector and ensure that the “precautionary principle” will apply when assessing potential effects of nanomaterials on human health and the environment. See Bloomberg BNA Product Safety & Liability Reporter, April 22, 2013.