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March 1, 2017

Report Claims OECD Dossiers on Nanomaterials Are of “Little to No Value”

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On February 23, 2017, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) issued a press release announcing a new report, commissioned by CIEL, the European Environmental Citizens’ Organization for Standardization (ECOS), and the Oeko-Institute, that “shows that most of the information made available by the Sponsorship Testing Programme of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is of little to no value for the regulatory risk assessment of nanomaterials.”  CIEL states that the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) screened 11,500 pages of raw data from the OECD dossiers on 11 nanomaterials, and analyzed all characterization and toxicity data on three specific nanomaterials — fullerenes, single-walled carbon nanotubes, and zinc oxide.  According to CIEL, while OECD’s Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials has yet to draw conclusions on the data quality, some stakeholders participating in European Union (EU) policy-making — “notably the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre” — have presented the dossiers as containing information on nano-specific human health and environmental impacts.  CIEL states that industry associations and individual companies “have taken this a step further emphasizing that there is enough information available to discard most concerns about potential health or environmental risks of manufactured nanomaterials.”  The report recommends the following options be considered:

  • Expand the currently ongoing program to test systematically the appropriateness of the OECD Testing Guidelines, including how to identify and prevent artefacts;
  • Develop Testing Guidelines for making nanomaterial preparations such as aerosols, dispersions, and feed;
  • Define a minimum set of characteristics to be reported when testing nanomaterials following OECD Testing Guidelines;
  • Support the build-up of widely accessible exposure registries and databases; and
  • Fill the gaps of current dossiers.