European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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13 December 2010

Unions require transparency and traceability of nanomaterials – 2nd ETUC resolution on nanos

On 1 December 2010, the Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) adopted a second resolution on Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies.

The resolution is a result of the work done by the ETUC Working Group on Nanotechnologies and of the discussion during the seminar Nanotechnologies in national and European trade union strategies organised by the ETUI on 19-22 October.

The aim of the resolution is to call for the protection of workers potentially exposed to nanomaterials in all sectors. It contains contributions that reaffirm the principles set out in the first ETUC resolution of 25 June 2008, such as the precautionary principle and the "no data, no market" principle.

The second ETUC resolution incorporates new subjects related to the technical and regulatory developments on the definition of nanomaterials, the need to adjust the legislative framework to integrate the principles of hygiene and traceability, and the role of standardisation.

In particular with regard to the definition of nanomaterials, it should enable and support the generation of information and its dissemination in the supply chain in such a way that workers and consumers are informed when nanomaterials constitute an integral part of a substance (or a mixture) and whether nanomaterials can be released from related products.

One of the ETUC’s demands is the development of concrete measures in the workplace to identify who is exposed, to what extent and to what type of nanomaterials, and which prevention measures to install to avoid exposure. Moreover, the ETUC invites Member States to set up a register of workers’ exposure to nanoparticles in association with health surveillance programmes.

It particularly addresses the concern that little emphasis is being placed on the social and ethical issues related to nanotechnologies and how they should be used to contribute to human well-being and the development of socially just societies.

The ETUC Deputy General Secretary, Joel Decaillon, stressed that the resolution on nanotechnologies aims to ensure the transparency and traceability of nanomaterials, and noted that it gave special attention to the inclusion of social aspects in the scope of their regulation.

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