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May 31, 2023

ANSES Calls for the EC to Adopt a “More Protective” Definition of Nanomaterials

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) issued a May 17, 2023, news item stating that it believes that the European Commission’s (EC) revised Recommendation on the definition of nanomaterial, published in June 2022, “is too restrictive and could lead to a regression in the protection of public health and the environment.” ANSES “is therefore urging the French authorities to take a more inclusive definition into account and work towards its integration in the revision of sectoral regulations at [the] European level,” including the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and Classification, Labeling, and Packaging (CLP) regulations.

According to ANSES, the EC’s revised definition “tend[s] to restrict the number and type of objects that will ultimately be considered as such. Applied as it stands, this definition will, for example, lead to some nanoscale objects being overlooked, such as micellar nanovectors (vesicles, liposomes, lipid particles, etc.) designed to carry substances of interest in medicine, nutrition or agriculture, which are currently stimulating a great deal of interest and development.” Instead, ANSES recommends providing the “broadest possible definition” of the term “nanomaterial” based solely on dimensional criteria. ANSES also recommends establishing a uniform definition, regardless of the sector in which nanomaterials are used. ANSES calls for a broader definition of ”nanomaterial” than that recommended by the EC, to consider nanomaterials more comprehensively and not overlook any that could be a health concern. ANSES states that it developed a guide detailing the various parameters of such a definition, “pointing out those that may require choices to be made by the public authorities because they go beyond the strictly scientific field.” ANSES notes that in practice, it “invites the public authorities to take advantage of the revision of the European regulations on chemicals (REACH and CLP) and cosmetics to propose a broader definition. They will be able to do so once the review of other sectoral regulations has begun.”