'Asking what information the REACH registration process will or will not produce about nanomaterials is the wrong question,' says Dr Steffi Friedrichs, Director General of the Nanotechnoloy Industries Association (NIA). 'Instead, the key point is that the NIA is working on the largest contribution that industry makes to the OECD's programme on the safety testing of a representative set of 14 nanomaterials, including silver nanoparticles,' she continues in an interview with ChemicalWatch (Issues Report, November 2010).
The report highlights that '[i]n principle, REACH does cover nanomaterials. But because of the tonnage thresholds for registration deadlines, producers of some nanomaterials, like nanosilver, will not have to submit registration information until 2013 or 2018...According to the list of pre-registered substances on ECHA's website, the envisaged registration deadline for nanosilver is 2018 because all the companies placing it on the market are doing so in quantities between one and 100 tonnes'.
The ChemicalWatch article also looked at a publication by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) earlier this year, which recommended that 'manufacturers should not use nanosilver in consumer products such as textiles, food or cosmetics until potential health risks could be ruled out'. RAS Materials, a member company of the NIA, however, says the BfR's explanation is "lacking reference to the current scientific understanding of the matter". "Subsequent dialogue with the institute", it said, "revealed that the BfR is generally doubting the antimicrobial functionality of silver ions, while simultaneously requesting the investigation of an unknown risk associated with silver nanoparticles". The firm noted that nanosilver "can be immobilised in all applications that are in discussion" and that "it should be rather hard to imagine that 'free' nanoparticles can be released from (mostly) polymeric materials".
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