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March 11, 2013

Switzerland Studies Need for Nano-Specific Regulation

Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 22, 2013, Empa announced the availability of a study prepared on behalf of Switzerland’s Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) entitled Human and Ecotoxicity of Synthetic Nanomaterials: Initial Insights for Major Accident Prevention. The study is intended to address whether new criteria for the determination of the quantity thresholds in the Ordinance on Protection against Major Accidents (OMA) may result from the accident potential or possible new hypothetical accident scenarios related to the human and ecotoxicity of synthetic nanomaterials. According to the study, data available at the present time are very limited and are inadequate to allow general conclusions to be drawn. Nonetheless, the study states, “initial insights for major accident prevention could be won, and a perspective on important pending questions given.” FOEN’s objective is to encourage research institutions and industry to take up these questions. FOEN “will continue to follow the national and international developments in this field, to put it in a position to introduce the necessary measures when necessary.”