UK panel urges action on testing and regulation of nanomaterials
This article was originally published in Scrip
There is an urgent need for more testing and regulation of nanomaterials, according to a report issued November 12th by the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, an independent body that advises the British government on environmental issues. The commission said that it found no evidence of harm thus far, but noted that the pace of progress is beyond the capacity of existing testing. It stated: "In the Royal Commission study we looked hard for evidence of nanomaterials causing harm to human health or to the environment, and found no such evidence. However, it is very early in the development of this technology, and the amount of testing has been relatively limited. We are aware that laboratory tests on some nanomaterials suggest that they have properties which could cause concern. This strengthens our case for an increase in the amount and type of testing to assess whether these theoretical risks are real, and to monitor their behaviour in the environment. On balance, the commission concluded that there were no grounds for a blanket ban or moratorium on nanomaterials." It also said that, in evaluating potential risks, it concluded that it was not the size of nanomaterials per se that was important, but their functionality, what they do and how they behave, that need to be evaluated. The full report is available at www.rcep.org.uk. Recently, the US FDA said it was seeking input on nanotechnology guidelines (Scrip Online, August 7th, 2008).