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December 18, 2015

Danish EPA Posts Several Publications Regarding Nanomaterials

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

This month the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (Danish EPA) published the following publications, in English, concerning nanomaterials:

  • Better control of nanomaterials — summary of the 4-year Danish initiative on nanomaterials: The “Better control of nanomaterials” initiative intended to create an overview of the possible risks of using nanomaterials, focusing on consumers and the environment. The report states: “Generally, there is still a need for more information on where nanomaterials are used, on which nanomaterials that are used and on the extent to which consumers and the environment are exposed to them.” The report claims that industry has expressed general satisfaction with the creation of the Danish nano product register, yet states: “Initial experience from the first entries into the Danish register, however, seems to indicate that despite these efforts, it is difficult for many Danish companies to deal with nanomaterials and that it is difficult to obtain the necessary information from the manufacturers and supplie[r]s who are typically located abroad.”
  • Nano-enabled environmental products and technologies — opportunities and drawbacks: The report highlights how nano-enabled technologies could reduce health and environmental problems. The project focused specifically on solutions where the properties of nanomaterials are used to address health and environmental problems, including: (1) purification of water and wastewater; (2) remediation of soil and groundwater; (3) cleaning of air; (4) reduction of energy consumption; and (5) for improving hygiene in the health care sector by using the antibacterial properties of certain nanomaterials. According to the report, “there appears to be broad consensus among stakeholders that life cycle considerations are relevant to provide an overall view of health and environmental pros and cons of nanoproducts,” but “surprisingly few” life cycle assessments have been conducted and published. The report states that existing studies indicate that one of the main trade-offs is whether the sometimes energy-intensive nanomaterial production phase and the use of sometimes scarce metals are outweighed by the benefits obtained in the use phase, where a considerably lower amount of material and more energy-efficient solutions are often applied, as compared to conventional technologies.
  • Carbon nanotubes: Types, products, market, and provisional assessment of the associated risks to man and the environment: The report provides a detailed overview of the variability and physico-chemical complexity of carbon nanotubes and how they are produced, purified, and surface modified. In addition, the report includes an overview of the different commercial uses of carbon nanotubes now and in the future, and describes carbon nanotube-exposure in relation to consumers, the environment, and workers. Finally, the report summarizes the existing knowledge of effects on humans and the environment and uses this information in a preliminary risk assessment.