Showing posts with label nanotoxicity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nanotoxicity. Show all posts
, , , , ,

Precautionary Principle Urged (Again?)

Friday, June 15, 2007

A news from the EU (but it turned out to be not so new):
"Current scientific risk-assessment methods [for nanomaterials] are really not reliable. We don't have the knowledge. Nanomaterials are so small and reactive and we don't have natural defences in the body against them," said Eva Hellsten, from the Commission's DG Environment, Directorate Water, Chemicals and Cohesion.
EU are still debating as to whether nanomaterials/nanoparticles would be sufficiently regulated in its REACH directive. To sum up, their position on regulating engineered nanoparticles remans the same:
1. IS REACH enough or not?
2. We don't have "sufficent knowledge"
3. More money required for research
4. Precautionary Principle vs 'non' Precautionary Principle

So in this part of nanotech regulation, there is really nothing new in any part of the world. Boring!

, , ,

The Toxicology of Nanomaterials

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Emily Monosson over at "the Neighborhood Toxicologist" pointed me to series of Nanotechnology Podcasts from Azonano and some Nanotoxicology articles. The article and podcast on "The Implications for Health, Safety and the Environment of the Nanotech Revolution." discusses data gaps in the toxicology and potential for environmental impacts of nanotechnology, and the suggested moratorium on nanotechnology development.

You can also find links to technical articles related to nanotoxicology on her blog.

, , , , ,

Some good points on regulating the unknown

Saturday, February 24, 2007

This article from R.F.Wilson deserves a review:
This article examines our emerging knowledge base about the hazards of nano-sized particles (NSPs), focusing on risks posed by two types of exposure, inhalation of NSPs and topical application of products containing NSPs. It examines why the current regulatory framework is inadequate to respond to these risks and why regulators believe their hands are tied until new legislation is enacted. It then argues that this regulatory inaction leaves a significant role for the private insurance market, but that regulators should support this market in tangible ways, such as requiring federal grant recipients to carry commercial liability policies that would protect the public from potential adverse consequences
I still don't think that current research results on nanotoxicity is conclusive enough to start underwriting. A very limited underwriting agreement can be applied I guess. Swiss Re wrote a good report on the case, downloadable here.

, , , ,

Weak regulation on cosmetics a time bomb

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Voluntary regulatory system in US cosmetic industry can be a time bomb:
Now, new nanotechnologies are being widely deployed in cosmetics products, despite evidence of serious potential health risks. Moreover, the physical application of some of the nanotechnologies to the body in cosmetics makes these uses uniquely prone to skin penetration, inhalation and ingestion of the nanotech materials.

List of cosmetics using nano products:
  • Penetration enhancer - Encapsulating or suspending key ingredients in so-called nanospheres or nanoemulsions, increases their penetration into the skin
  • L’Oreal (which ranks No. 6 in nanotechnology patent holders in the U.S.) 75 has used polymer nanocapsules to deliver active ingredients, e.g. retinol or Vitamin A, into the deeper layers of skin. In 1998 the company unveiled Plentitude Revitalift, an anti-wrinkle cream using nanoparticles.
  • Freeze 24/7, a new anti-wrinkle skincare line is planning to incorporate nanotechnology in future products.
  • La Prairie’s product, the Dollars 500 Skin Caviar Intensive Ampoule Treatment, claims to minimize the look of uneven skin pigmentation, lines and wrinkles in six weeks using nanotechnology. La Prairie’s vice president of retail marketing and training, Holly Genovese, says the nanoemulsions in the product “optimize the delivery of functional ingredients into the skin and allow these materials to get to the site of action quicker”.
  • Procter & Gamble’s Olay brand was designed with nanoemulsion technology in 2005.
  • Other companies using nanotech in their skin products as of 2005 include: Mary Kay and Clinique from Lauder; Neutrogena, from Johnson & Johnson; Avon; and the
  • Estee Lauder brand.
  • Hair products – using nanoemulsions to encapsulate active ingredients and carry them deeper into hair shafts.
  • PureOlogy began experimenting with nanoemulsions in 2000 when the company’s founder set out to create a product line especially developed for color treated hair.Sunscreens – the zinc and titanium in sunscreens are “micronized”, making them transparent, less greasy, less smelly and more absorbable into the skin.
  • DDF planned more nanotech-enhanced anti-aging products as of 2004.
  • Colorescience markets a product named Sunforgettable, a powder which contains titanium dioxide nanoparticles.
  • Paris-based Caudalie launched its Vinosun Anti-Aging Suncare, a sunscreen and anti-aging treatment that relies on “nanomized” UV filters and antioxidants, in the US in 2003.
I guess although the heading is "cosmetic", when nanoproducts are used, examination mechanism shall not be voluntary. Download IEHN report here.

, , , , ,

European Nanotechnology Law?

Friday, December 1, 2006

A few days ago the European Parliament issued an action plan on Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies. This action plan is not legally binding and is deemed simply as a declaration of intention in regulating nanotechnology further. In general, there is nothing special under the action plan as it only stresses on the importance of research and impact assessments. There are, however, some paragraphs that reflects the position of the European Union with regards to nanoscience and nanotechnologies.

For example, the action plan:
  • Recommends that lists of ingredients in consumer products identify the addition of manufactured nanoparticulate material;
  • Regrets the fact that the patenting of nanoscience and nanotechnology inventions in Europe is developing slowly; calls on the EU to create a nanoscience and nanotechnology patent monitoring system governed by the European Patent Office;
  • Encourages general reforms in the field of the European patent system in order to cut the costs of patenting and to improve accessibility to patents for SMEs; stresses the need for greater transparency and clear limits to the scope of patent protection;
  • Emphasises the need to respect high ethical principles and welcomes the planned reviews on issues such as non-therapeutic human enhancement and links between nanosciences and nanotechnologies and individual privacy; expects the reviews to be public and to include a thorough analysis of nanomedicine;
The above points suggests the EU position toward labelling and patent reform. The last point on human enhancement is especially important and this shows EU's high awareness on the interconnectedness between human enhancement and nanotechnologies. You can compare it with UNESCO's view on human enhancement here.

Currently, the status of european nanotechnology regulation is more or less equal to the US': There are no specific law regulating it. It is questionable whether existing regulations in the field of environmental (such as the REACH proposal), health, workplace and food and drugs can directly apply to nanotechnology, due to differences of characters. There are suggestions to put nanotechnology under the REACH proposal but there are also worries that it may not be able to cover "finished product" such as a transistor.

Nevertheless, there are general environmental regulations under EU auspices which applies to every risky activities, including nanotechnologies. The factories, laboratories and storing facilities of nanoproducts could be subjected to environmental impact assessment directive 85/337/EEC, or IPPC Directive 96/61/EC. Nevertheless, this is NOT without difficulties. Nanotechnology projects are not listed in the mandatory impact assessment list under the EU impact assessment directive (see Annex II), so states may exempt them from impact assessment obligation, by relying solely on the directive . Lack of effects data will also prevent stakeholders from conducting assessments.

The case with the IPPC directive is similar. The IPPC deals with limiting the amount of "emission" of pollutants, which is irrelevant with regards to nanoparticles. It has been mentioned in several researches that it is the size, surface structure, solubility and shape of the nanomaterials that contributes to its toxicity, and not the amount/weight.

Last but not least, although nanotech is not specifically regulated, there are general principles of EU Law that will safeguard public health and the environment. The EU is known to be a strict adherent of precautionary principle, so recklessness with regards to the production or research of nanomaterials will arise liability. There could be special cases where nanotech is categorized under strict liability, for example in its connection with military uses. There is yet an established due dilligence rule with regard to nanotechnology, but to avoid law suit, it could be safer to refer to the emerging "best practices" and to the formal position of the EU as reflected on its action plans, communications or existing directives and regulations.

(Hat Tip to Nanologue and Prof Geert van Calster!)