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December 5, 2017

RIVM Takes Critical Look at EUON

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) published a brochure entitled “The European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials:  A step forward?” on November 30, 2017.  RIVM concludes that the European Union (EU) Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON) will have a limited contribution to reducing the uncertainty regarding the safety of nanomaterials.  Although several EU Member States, including the Netherlands, supported a mandatory EU-wide registration system for nanomaterials, the European Commission (EC) created the EUON.  RIVM explores the consequences of this decision for the available knowledge regarding the use and safety of nanomaterials.  According to RIVM, for the Dutch government to protect humans and the environment, it is important to know which products contain nanomaterials and what the potential risks of these materials are for public health and the environment.  While the EUON contributes to this knowledge by collecting the available information in one central location, the quality of the information is also important.  RIVM states that one of the sources of information is the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation, but notes that “this risk assessment framework is not yet sufficiently suitable for nanomaterials.”  In addition, according to RIVM, the information is limited to broad categories of products and articles, and brand names are not specified.  RIVM concludes that “it will remain difficult for consumers, as well as others, to judge whether they are actually using a ‘nanoproduct’ and what the potential health consequences are of such use.  Accordingly, even though the EUON maintains a separate web portal for consumers, it appears most relevant for experts, competent authorities, and industry.”