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October 25, 2017

European Trade Union Institute Publishes Policy Brief on EUON

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) recently published a policy brief entitled “EU Observatory for Nanomaterials:  a constructive view on future regulation.”  The policy brief provides information about the European Union (EU) Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON), how it is being developed, its limitations, and “why it is not an ideal option.”  According to the policy brief, the absence of risk information regarding nanomaterials in safety data sheets (SDS) “is one of the main reasons why trade unions, environmental associations and consumer groups are in favour of a nano-registry, similar to those already established in several Member States such as France, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden (countries which make up a large part of the EU nano-market).”  The policy brief states that the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) “should focus on its core business by demanding registration dossiers of sufficient quality on nanomaterials or the nanoform of substances” under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation.  The EUON should support ECHA by making information on risks and health effects more widely available to employers.  The policy brief suggests a different monitoring scenario, based on rules that would ensure transparency, improve the ability of national authorities to track different types of nanomaterials along the supply chain, make information visible, and guarantee an adequate exchange of information on safety at all stages.  ETUI’s recommendations include creating a framework to trace where nanomaterials are being produced and how they are used, and establishing worker exposure registries at the company level.  The policy brief “urges policy-makers to make use of foresight and ethics to address fast-moving technological convergence and the new frontiers of science and technology.”