Germany chem group VCI welcomes EU approach to nanomaterials

03 October 2012 16:11  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Germany’s chemical producers trade group VCI on Wednesday welcomed the European Commission’s approach to regulate nanomaterials under the EU's existing Reach rules for chemicals.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Commission said that following a review of regulations it remained convinced that Reach - the EU regulation on the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemical substances - sets the best possible framework for risk management of nanomaterials when they occur as substances or mixtures. 

At the same time, the Commission is considering modifications in some Reach annexes for more specific requirements of nanomaterials, it said.

Gerd Romanowski, general manager of VCI’s science, technology and environment portfolio, said that the Commission’s approach will provide companies with the necessary legal certainty as the advance their activities in the nanomaterials sector.

Going forward, VCI will cooperate with regulators on necessary modifications Reach annexes, he said.

Romanowski also said that VCI supports the Commissions plans for a European web platform for nanomaterials in order to improve transparency.

The Commission said it will create a web platform with references to all relevant information sources, including registries on a national or sector level, where they exist.

In parallel, the Commission will launch an impact assessment to identify and develop the most adequate means to increase transparency and ensure regulatory oversight, including an in-depth analysis of the data gathering needs for such purpose.

This analysis will include those nanomaterials currently falling outside existing notification, registration or authorisation schemes, it added.

According to the Commission, the global market for nanomaterials is estimated at 11m tonnes and at a market value of €20bn ($26bn).

However, products underpinned by nanotechnology are forecast to grow from a global volume of €200bn in 2009 to €2,000bn by 2015, it said.

Current direct employment in the nanomaterial sector is estimated at 300,000 to 400,000 in Europe, it said.

The nanomaterials sector is still dominated by materials which have been in use for decades, such as carbon black or synthetic amorphous silica, the Commission said.

However, in past years, many new nanomaterial-related applications have been developed, including a number of consumer products such as UV-filters in sun creams and anti-odour textiles, it said.

At the same time, many medical and technical applications - tumour therapies, lithium-ion batteries which can drive electrical cars, or solar panels - also exist, it said.

“Those applications have the potential to create major technological breakthroughs, and therefore nanomaterials have been identified as a key enabling technology,” it said.

“Equally, hazard properties and exposure to workers, consumers and the environment differ largely from no concern at all to potential risks that need to be addressed,” the Commission said.

The EU has the tools to address those risks in a focused way, it added.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653

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