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Member states ‘could propose’ nanomaterials for candidate list

People - Bjorn Hansen, DG Environment

EU member states could put forward proposals for nanomaterial forms of substances to be placed on the REACH candidate list of SVHCs - if they think the nanomaterial fulfils the necessary conditions.

The theoretical suggestion was made by Bjorn Hansen, head of the chemicals unit in the European Commission’s environment directorate, during a panel debate at a recent NGO nanomaterials conference in Brussels.

In identifying SVHCs in the past, he said, the Commission has asked Echa to develop a dossier without doing a risk management option analysis (RMOA). “[We can] just use REACH [and] make reference to Annex VI of CLP which says it is a carcinogen [for example]. That is enough to identify it and then it goes off to the candidate list.”

In the case of nanomaterials, he said the Commission would “feel uncomfortable” doing it, but he would be happy to look into whether or not Echa could make a dossier. “This is something for which I lack the time and possibility to access scientific literature to understand. But member states might have more capacity to put the case together.”

His comments came after Nicholas Ashford, a policy professor from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said nanomaterials should be classified as SVHCs because they cross the blood-brain barrier.

ClientEarth’s Vito Buonsante said that as the Commission has been “appallingly evasive on action” to regulate nanomaterials, why would member states not nominate nanomaterials of concern for the candidate list?

“The only country so far that has taken regulatory action is France with titanium dioxide,” he said, “but it was through the CLP Regulation, which is a very slow procedure to get, maybe, to authorisation. What Bjorn said is true – REACH gives the possibility to take action already.”

Gregory Moore of Sweden's Chemicals Agency (Kemi) said his agency did think of proposing silver in nanomaterial form for the candidate list, but the Netherlands made the proposal first.

“We could make a case, but we have been focusing on [the issue of the] EDC criteria, for which we did sue the Commission. [But] we are keeping nano under observation and we have certain activities going on and we’ll see what happens.”

In April this year, Echa’s Member State Committee (MSC) backed a draft decision on the evaluation of silver nanomaterials, as brought by the Dutch competent authority.

The Netherlands put silicon dioxide forward for evaluation in 2012. Since then, silver (2013) and titanium dioxide (2014) have been added to the Corap. And two more substances with nanoforms are listed in the Corap for 2015-2017: zinc oxide, and graphite and multi-walled carbon nanotubes. They remain the only nanoforms on the draft 2017-19 Corap list.

Other nano business

Kemi is drafting a Regulation for companies to provide information on nanomaterials in chemical products to the Swedish products register. At the conference, hosted by Ciel, Ecos and Öko-Institut, Mr Moore said “the fact that the Commission has set up a nano observatory has not persuaded us to change our course”.

Mr Hansen said the Commission is currently conducting a "final" internal consultation on the long-delayed review on the nanomaterials definition, but he "couldn't promise if it will be before Christmas or after”.

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