German chems defend nano record, reject regulator’s warning

22 October 2009 20:17  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Germany’s chemicals industry is acting responsible in its handling of nanomaterials, a chemical trade group said on Thursday, in reaction to a warning by the country’s federal environmental agency.

The Umweltbundesamt had warned about increasing health and environmental risks from nanomaterials, which were insufficiently researched, and it called for a legislative framework, including a product registration system for nanomaterials.

Frankfurt-based Verband der Chemischen Industrie (VCI) pointed to the industry’s safety programmes and the close cooperation of firms with the science community and the research ministry in developing nanomaterials.

National and international research did not show health or environmental risks from nano-products currently on the market, said Gerd Romanowski, head of science, technology and environment at VCI.

The agency’s warning and its background paper did not offer any new insights, he added.

Also, the sector was already subject to German and EU health and environmental laws, the association said.

VCI, for its part, had issued several guidelines to help its member firms apply existing legislation to the nanomaterials sector, it said.

These covered the registration of nanomaterials under the EU’s REACH regulation, as well as risk evaluation, information flows within the chemical supply chain and the safe disposal of wastes containing nanomaterials, it said.

Furthermore, VCI did not see the need for a registration system as called for by the agency, it said.

A registration system required internationally agreed definitions for nanomaterials and should, if at all, be implemented on the EU level, Romanowski said, adding that a German “solo act” would not make much sense.

Meanwhile, in the US, regulators could soon launch a mandatory nanomaterials data programme after the chemicals industry there failed to demonstrate that a voluntary approach would work.

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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