Size Matters in Nanotechnology

With the interest in nanotechnology continuing to grow, it is important to understand the effect of the latest industry regulations

Always interesting, often controversial, nanotechnology has many uses in C&T manufacture. John Woodruff looks at the latest regulations, safety issues and which companies are using the technology most effectively

Nanotechnology may be considered as one of the most important and exciting scientific and engineering breakthroughs of the past decade. However, as always with the emergence of the new, comes health and environmental concerns and legislation is introduced in an effort to control new technologies. Such concerns and associated legislation is often brought to bear on cosmetics and as a result nanomaterials formed part of the recast cosmetic regulations of the EU[1]. They provide specific safety assessments and notification obligations for nanomaterials and require the word ‘nano’ to be added to any material that can be regarded as such. These requirements for cosmetic products, which contain nanomaterials according to the definition, came into force from July 2013 as part of Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009.

According to Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 nanomaterials are defined as insoluble or biopersistent and intentionally manufactured materials with one or more external dimensions, or an internal structure, on the scale from 1nm-100nm. However in 2011 the Commission adopted a recommendation[2] that defines nanomaterials as natural or manufactured substances or non-active substances containing particles in an unbound state or as aggregate or as an agglomerate and where, for 50% or more of the particles in the number of size distribution, one or more external dimensions is in the size range 1nm-100nm. Fullerenes, graphene flakes and single wall nanotubes with one or more external dimensions below 1nm are to be regarded as nanomaterials.

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