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June 13, 2012

Health Council of the Netherlands Proposes Registry for Worker Exposure to Engineered Nanoparticles

Lynn L. Bergeson

The Health Council of the Netherlands announced on May 22, 2012, the availability of a draft report proposing the implementation of an exposure registry and a system of health monitoring when working with engineered nanoparticles. The draft report states that, due to the concerns and lack of knowledge, the Health Council “considers it prudent” to create an exposure registry. The Health Council recommends that the exposure registry be created for “insoluble and poorly in water soluble nanoparticles in any composition or physical structure, including nanoparticles that are present in solid materials.” The draft report acknowledges that, if solid materials are in good condition, “scarcely any nanoparticles will be released, but due to wear and tear and handling, such as drilling and sanding, it cannot be excluded that such particles can be released with all the associated risks.” The draft report concludes that, “[f]rom the point of view of health, it is best to also register the solid materials.” Data submitted to the registry would need to include chemical and physical properties, determinants of emission and exposure, and exposure concentrations. Regarding medical surveillance, the draft report concludes that implementation of a passive system is the best option. While a passive system would not provide answers quickly on whether health risks exist when working with nanoparticles, and if so, which type of health effects, when combined with other activities, such as targeted scientific research, it “may give a valuable contribution in the future to providing insight in the potential health risks due to exposure to nanoparticles.” Comments on the draft report, which was presented to experts of employer’s organizations and trade unions, are due August 10, 2012. According to the Health Council, it will consider comments when preparing the final report, which will be presented to the State Secretary of Social Affairs and Employment.