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March 17, 2014

Germany Releases Study Assessing Impacts of European Register of Products Containing Nanomaterials

Lynn L. Bergeson

Earlier this month, the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) issued a report entitled Assessment of Impacts of a European Register of Products Containing Nanomaterials, which was intended to analyze the impacts of a European register of products containing nanomaterials (ENPR).  The study identified the sectors and companies that would be affected by an ENPR, and estimated the number of notifiers and notifications, categories of substances, concerned mixtures, and articles.  Based on that result, the study quantified the administrative costs for notifiers and the competent authority, and described the benefits of an ENPR for public authorities, consumers, and notifiers. The report includes a preliminary remark from Öko-Institut e.V., which performed the study. The preliminary remark notes that during the study, various difficulties occurred, resulting in a lower reliability of calculations.  Complications included companies “not interested or not able to substantiate the high burden that they allocate to such a register with reliable figures,” as well as “quite a number of companies [that] do not seem to have knowledge of the possible content of nanomaterials in their products.” According to the report, “an ENPR could bring additional value for public authorities, consumers and companies involved in nanotechnology.” The report concludes that an ENPR would “help to avoid a multiplication of administrative costs” to both companies manufacturing or importing products containing nanomaterials and the national competent authorities that would be responsible for a register at the Member State level. The report states: “Finally, from a legal point of view it can be discussed whether a register is the proportionate instrument in the light of the precautionary principle to govern the safe use of nanomaterials and products containing them.  However, the introduction of an ENPR is the mildest legal instrument to control the production and use of nanoproducts compared to a restriction, a ban or a moratorium on one or more of these products.”