The EU’s REACH chemicals legislation requires industry to provide information on chemical substances for their evaluation, and this applies also to nanomaterials. Despite this need to provide information, very few nanomaterials have been registered in the EU’s REACH registration system – 9 to date, out of the hundreds that exist and can be found in products for sale in shops.
As nanomaterials are still an emerging technology, with new applications still at various stages of development, there is a strong tension between transparency (provision of information) and confidentiality (provision of sometimes very restricted information).
The issue of better balancing transparency and confidentiality was the focus of a workshop held at this year’s NanoSafe conference where the ETUI participated. Doreen Fedrigo-Fazio, the ETUI’s NanoDiode Project Coordinator, made a presentation from the trade union perspective indicating that workers are not necessarily informed of the use of nanomaterials in their workplaces. Responsible companies need to engage more proactively and positively with regulators and other stakeholders, providing information publicly as a means of helping society to make safer use of these still little understood substances.
Aïda Ponce Del Castillo (ETUI)