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June 2, 2016

Germany Publishes Report on Nanomaterials in the Environment

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On June 1, 2016, the German Environment Agency (UBA) published a report entitled Nanomaterials in the environment:  Current state of knowledge and regulations on chemical safety.  The aim of the report is to outline the necessary further development of chemicals regulations for nanomaterials with regard to the environment from UBA’s perspective.  The report is addressed “particularly to players and decision-makers involved in discussions related to the adaptation of the various regulations on chemical safety.”  The report presents the current state of knowledge about the environmental behavior and the effects of nanomaterials; considers general aspects of regulatory needs such as the definition of nanomaterials, their characterization, and the assessment of related risks; and describes the current consideration of nanomaterials in the existing active substance regulations and the specific requirements for adaptions.  The report states that, in the view of UBA, the European Commission (EC) should expedite the implementation of the definition proposal of nanomaterials in regulations on the safety of chemicals, as well as the implementation of nanomaterial specific requirements into the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation “in a constructive manner.”  With regard to the implementation and further development of the regulations of concern and the required risk assessment instruments, UBA “will continue to cooperate closely” with the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, the Federal Office for Chemicals, and the Federal Ministry of the Environment, as well as the representatives of the other European Union Member States, the European Chemicals Agency, the European Food Safety Agency, the European Medicine Agency, the EC, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  According to the report, the nanomaterials research strategy developed in cooperation with other higher federal authorities is still being pursued.  The report states:  “The steady progress of advancement of nanomaterials has to be observed carefully in order to ensure that the adaptations of individual instruments for risk assessment currently being called for and discussed will still be adequate in the future.”