The European Commission (EC) has determined that testing and notification rules under Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH) regulations are adequate to ensure the safety of nanomaterials introduced into commerce. Noting the limited data available on manufactured nanoparticles in the workplace and the environment, the EC cited “major technical challenges to monitor [nanomaterials’] presence, including those pertaining to their small size and low concentration levels and to distinguishing particles of manufactured nanomaterials from natural or incidental nanoparticles.” It also recognized the issues that arise when a substance is used in multiple forms, including whether a nano-sized substance would be considered a new material requiring registration or covered by the substance’s existing registration.
The Commission concluded, however, “there is no reason for alarm about nanomaterials,” and decided that it would be impractical to implement nanospecific restrictions in existing environmental laws. It also found that existing environmental laws can be reasonably construed to cover nanomaterials so that no changes are needed to establish regulatory controls. The report states that risk assessments on nanomaterials can proceed on a case-by-case basis under REACH even as scientific understanding of those materials develops.