Download PDF
November 6, 2013

WHO Meeting Report States Precautionary Approach Towards Nanomaterials “Seems Desirable”

Lynn L. Bergeson

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published the report of the December 10-11, 2012, WHO expert meeting entitled Nanotechnology and human health: Scientific evidence and risk governance. The conclusion states that while “first generation nanomaterials are being used in a variety of applications and products, they do not seem to present an imminent public health issue.” The conclusion continues, however, and states: “Given the scientific uncertainty and still emerging evidence, and given the early indications of harm and possible adverse human health effects that have been hypothesised for some nanomaterials, a precautionary approach seems desirable.” The report notes the need for data concerning nanoparticle exposure and distribution in the human body, toxicological mechanisms, and possible adverse health effects. According to the report, available methodology, current protocols, and testing guidelines for chemical risk assessment could be used to assess nanomaterials, “but they need adaptation.”  The report recommends that further initiatives “be undertaken to use available evidence on health implications, to the extent possible, to inform the risk governance of nanotechnology.”