23/04/2008 - OECD member countries, as well as some non-member economies and other stakeholders, are pooling expertise and funding to test the human health and environmental safety effects of a number of nanomaterials. A special meeting is being held 24th-25th April in Tokyo to organize the arrangements for this testing programme.
The programme aims to test nanomaterials which are already in use or will be soon. Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States have already announced that they will be working together to test fullerenes (a special form of carbon otherwise known as "bucky balls"), single-wall carbon nanotubes, multi-wall carbon nanotubes and cerium oxide.
These nanomaterials will be tested for: their physical-chemical properties; environmental degradation and accumulation; environmental toxicology; and mammalian toxicology. Nanomaterials are used in products as varied as tennis rackets and sun screens.
The OECD's Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials will manage the programme as part of its work on the safety nanomaterials. OECD has already published three substantial reports detailing the efforts of governments and other stakeholders to address safety issues.
Other countries and stakeholders are expected to announce testing work on additional nanomaterials at the meeting. Journalists are invited to attend a briefng at the end of the meeting, 17h00 25th April.
The Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials was established in 2006 to help member countries efficiently and effectively address the safety challenges of nanomaterials. OECD has a wealth of experience with developing methods for the safety testing and assessment of chemical products. The Working Party brings together more than 100 experts from governments and other stakeholders.
Although OECD member countries appreciate the many potential benefits from the use of nanomaterials, they wished to engage, at an early stage, in addressing the possible safety implications at the same time as research on new applications is being undertaken.
More information on the work of OECD on the Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials is available at: http://www.oecd.org/env/nanosafety.
For further information please contact Peter Kearns of the Environment Health and Safety Division of the OECD (e-mail: peter.kearns @ oecd.org).