Legal and practical challenges in classifying nanomaterials according to regulatory definitions


Professor Iris Eisenberger has co-authored an article on "Legal and practical challenges in classifying nanomaterials according to regulatory definitions". The article shows that the legal definitions of "nanomaterial" in EU legislative acts render it impossible to scientifically classify nanomaterials in a way that is in accordance with EU requirements, thus endangering human health, the integrity of the environment, and economically relevant innovation activities. It was co-authored together with Martin Miernicki, Thilo Hofmann, Frank von der Kammer and Antonia Praetorius from the University of Vienna. The article in Nature Nanotechnology is now available online.

Abstract:

The European Union (EU) has adopted nano-specific provisions for cosmetics, food and biocides, among others, which include binding definitions of the term “nanomaterial”. The article takes an interdisciplinary approach to analyse the respective definitions from a legal and practical perspective. The assessment reveals that the definitions contain several ill-defined terms such as “insoluble” or “characteristic properties” and/or are missing thresholds. Furthermore, the definitions pose major and so far unsolved analytical challenges that, in practice, make it nearly impossible to classify nanomaterials according to EU regulatory requirements. An important purpose of the regulations, the protection of human health and the environment, may remain unfulfilled and the development of innovative applications of nanomaterials may be facing a path full of (legal) uncertainties. Based on the findings, the article provides five recommendations for a more coherent and practical approach towards the regulation of nanomaterials.

The full-text of the article is available here (no login required):

Martin Miernicki, Thilo Hofmann, Iris Eisenberger, Frank von der Kammer and Antonia Praetorius, 'Legal and practical challenges in classifying nanomaterials according to regulatory definitions' (2019) 14 Nat. Nanotechnol. 208-216

DOI: 10.1038/s41565-019-0396-z


09.04.2019