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The EU and the definition of “Nanomaterial”

The EU Commission has not decided to harmonize the definition of nanomaterial yet, just to slightly update it. Considering that the issues identified in the current definition in the Recommendation 2011/696/EU might be addressed through minor changes of it, the EU Commission organizes only a second survey to targeted stakeholders (economic operators implementing all relevant EU sectoral regulation and their federations, Member States competent authorities and other regulatory stakeholders, research organisations supporting implementation, academia and NGOs).

Previous consultations and the JRC reports highlighted the following interim findings:

The definition is fit for purpose, its main elements are generally accepted;

Uptake of the definition in EU regulation to date has not been as comprehensive as anticipated. While some delay in the uptake can be attributed to the anticipation of the results of the review of the definition, direct uptake has been hindered by the lack of clarity of some of the definition’s elements in particular in relation to the term particle and to particle properties;

Limiting the default inclusion of a number of materials to only carbon-based materials (fullerenes, graphene flakes and single wall carbon nanotubes) may be outdated;

In this context, it should be noted that other nanomaterial definitions are still valid in specific legislation, where the definition from the Recommendation has not yet been taken up (e.g., the definition of ‘engineered nanomaterial’ in the Novel Foods Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 or the nanomaterial as “insoluble or biopersistent and intentionally manufactured material with one or more external dimensions, or an internal structure, on the scale from 1 to 100 nm” under Regulation of cosmetic products (EC) No 1223/2009) are outside the remit of this consultation.

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