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July 29, 2021

France Seeks More Protective European Definition of Nanomaterials

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

As reported in our May 7, 2021, blog item, the European Commission (EC) recently held a targeted stakeholder consultation to update, test, and verify the preliminary findings of its review of the 2011 Recommendation on the definition of a nanomaterial. According to a July 23, 2021, news item posted by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES), in its response to the consultation, ANSES maintained that the changes proposed by the EC “tend to restrict the number and type of objects that will ultimately be considered as nanomaterials. For example, nanoplastics, as well as certain emulsions and lipid nanoparticles, might not be considered to fall under this definition.” ANSES states that the EC’s definition “needs to be as comprehensive as possible and define nanomaterials in a unique way based on physico-chemical criteria.” Sectoral regulations, such as for cosmetics, biocides, and food, could then clarify which nanomaterials should be subject to specific measures, including product labeling, specific assessment, and authorization, before the nanomaterials are placed on the market. ANSES “also finds it unfortunate that the size thresholds (1-100 nm) used in the current definition were not open to discussion as part of this consultation, as they have no scientific basis.” According to the news item, ANSES will publish an opinion by 2022, “with the support of a multidisciplinary group of experts,” that provides more information and perspective on its response to the EC.