Safety of manufactured nanomaterials

OECD chemical studies show way forward for nanomaterial safety


9 June 2015 - The OECD reveals the long awaited release of information on the accuracy of tests used to determine the safety of nanomaterials

With manufactured nanomaterials becoming more and more a part of everyday life, the pressure on governments to consider the risks posed by such tiny particles on human health and the environment has been mounting. Manufactured nanomaterials are used for a variety of applications from sunscreens and cosmetics to paints and pharmaceuticals.

With the explosion of applications for nanomaterials, the problem for governments has been in ensuring that consumers have confidence that the tests used on standard chemical compounds are adequate for these new and dynamic materials.

  • Today the OECD marked the end of a seven year experimental testing programme, investigating 11 commercially viable nanomaterials across over 110 different chemical tests.
  • The results were co-ordinated from across 11 countries with tests and data generated from dozens of government agencies, universities, research institutions and businesses.
  • Over 780 studies on the specific properties of nanomaterials were undertaken to fill in the gaps of our understanding of nanomaterials.

This unprecedented volume of new information has dramatically shifted the world’s understanding of the properties and application of nanomaterials.

The tests showed that the standard test guidelines used for normal chemical substances are in the most part suitable for use on nanomaterials. Changes to the Test Guidelines to better understand the intrinsic properties of nanomaterials are now providing a clear framework for OECD countries to move forward in the examination of nanomaterials.

This programme gives member governments confidence that the use of the OECD test guidelines to determine the impact that nanomaterials may have on the environment or human health are suitable in the most part.

  • I think the public should feel confident that we now better know how to assess the safety of nanomaterials, Bob Diderich, Head, OECD Environmental Health and Safety Division.

The OECD will now focus on how the Test Guidelines can be better adapted in light of these studies, to make sure that the intrinsic properties of nanomaterials are fully accounted for.




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