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       Occupational Health and Safety 28/10/2010
Nanotechnologies – threat or benefit for EU citizens?

Nanotechnologies – threat or benefit for EU citizens?


European Commission organises a special open day to demystify the issue of nanotechnologies and illustrate possible big economic and scientific developments based on tiniest particles.


On 27 October 2010 the European Commission High Level Group on Key Enabling Technologies organised an Open Day on Nanotechnologies at the Charlemagne Conference Center in Brussels. The conference was moderated by Gernot Klotz, chair of the Nano working group of the HLG on Key Enabling Technologies. Christos Tokamanis from the European Commission DG Research in his opening speech outlined the European Commission Action Plan for Nanotechnologies 2010-2015.


Speakers included business representatives, scientists and researchers as well as government representatives.


Commission comes up with definition of nanomaterials:


The conference just comes after the European Commission has tabled its proposal for a recommendation on defining the term “nanomaterial” on 21 October 2010, which is open for public consultation until 19 November:


The EU executive wants to hold another public consultation on the subject by 2012. The definition might also be reviewed based on experience gained, new scientific knowledge or technological development.


Content of the proposal:


The draft proposal follows a 2009 European Parliament resolution which called for the introduction of a comprehensive science-based definition of nanomaterials in Community legislation, to allow for nano-specific amendments to relevant rules and regulations.


The draft definition comprises three criteria. Whenever one of the criteria is fulfilled a material is considered to be a nanomaterial. 


According to the Commission, a nanomaterial "consists of particles, with one or more external dimensions in the size range 1nm-100nm for more than 1% of their number size distribution; has internal or surface structures in one or more dimensions in the size range 1nm–100nm, and/or; has a specific surface area by volume greater than 60m2/cm3, excluding materials consisting of particles with a size lower than 1nm".



BEUC & ANEC nano inventory


The 2010 nano inventory, published on 25 October by the European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC) and the European Consumer Voice in Standardisation (ANEC), found 475 products containing nanomaterials compared to 151 the previous year.



The CEOC Committee Occupational Health and Safety, chaired by Sebastian Bartels (DEKRA), has created a special task force on nanomaterials and is closely following up the developments in this field. Several meetings took already place on the issues, including guest speakers from EU-OSHA and regular cooperation with Dr Steffi Friedrichs, Director of the Nanotechnologies Industry Association.


If you would like to receive further information on this issue and CEOC’s related activities, please contact Astrid Silvia Grunert, EU Affairs Manager at CEOC International:



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