ECHA Agreement Addresses Nanomaterials Information

The European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials (EU-ON) will be developed in three phases, with phase one set to go live in summer 2017.

The European Chemicals Agency has begun working on the European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials (EU-ON) as a result of an agreement signed this month. Better access to relevant, understandable information about nanomaterials both for European citizens and experts is the main goal of an agreement signed between ECHA and the European Commission.

Information sources for the observatory include data generated by various pieces of EU legislation regulating the safe use of nanomaterials (such as REACH, biocides, cosmetics) from national inventories, research projects, and market studies. "There is already quite a lot of information on nanomaterials available. The challenge has been to navigate and find information that is easily understandable and relevant for a wider audience. Our goal is for EU-ON to become a trustworthy source of information that contributes to a well-balanced public debate on nanomaterials," said Geert Dancet, executive director of ECHA, on Dec. 7.

In its Dec. 14 ECHA Weekly, the agency also said these drafts for updated ECHA guidance on REACH regulation have moved to the next consultation step and been sent to the Member State Committee for review:

  • Guidance on recommendations for nanomaterials for environmental endpoints, including Appendix R7-1 Recommendations for nanomaterials applicable to Chapter R7a Endpoint specific guidance; Appendix R7-1 Recommendations for nanomaterials applicable to Chapter R7b Endpoint specific guidance; and Appendix R7-2 Recommendations for nanomaterials applicable to Chapter R7c Endpoint specific guidance
  • Guidance on recommendations for nanomaterials for human health endpoints

EU-ON will be developed in three phases. ECHA has started to prepare the first phase, which will explain what nanomaterials are and how they are used and will also deal with safety issues; this first phase is set to go live in summer 2017.

After years of discussion and analysis, the commission decided the observatory is the best tool to increase transparency on nanomaterials marketed in the EU. An alternative option was an EU-wide registry, which would have made it mandatory for industry to provide notice of its use of nanomaterials. The Commission decided a registry would be too expensive for both industry and authorities, ECHA reported.

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