Europe Establishes Nanomaterials Information Tool
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Commission have agreed to start work on the European Union’s Observatory for Nanomaterials (EU-ON), which the Helsinki-based agency will host.
After several years of talks and analyses, the Commission has decided the observatory – a collection of information that will be made available to various stakeholders – is the best tool to increase transparency on nanomaterials on the EU market.
An alternative option was an EU-wide registry, which would have made it mandatory for the industry to notify its use of nanomaterials. However, the Commission concluded that this would be too costly for both industry and the authorities.
The first of three phases is expected to go live in the summer of 2017. Using information that is already available, this phase will explain what nanomaterials are and how they are used, discuss safety issues and contain links to research projects. Later phases will include search functionalities and more detailed product information.
The observatory will gather its information from sources that include data generated by various EU regulations on the safe use of nanomaterials, such as Reach, biocides and cosmetics legislation, national inventories, research projects and market studies. ECHA said this will bring added value not just to citizens, but also to policy makers, industry, workers and NGOS.
“There is already quite a lot of information on nanomaterials available. The challenge has been to navigate and find information that is easily understandable and relevant for a wider audience,” said Geert Dancet, ECHA’s executive director. He added that EU-ON’s goal is to become a trustworthy information source that contributes to a well-balanced public debate on nanomaterials.