Nanomaterials have special properties stemming from their minuscule size. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, so you can’t see nanos without super powerful microscopes similar to those used for atoms.
if you’re still having trouble with the scale, try this – one human hair is approximately 80,000- 100,000 nanometers wide.
As you might imagine, nanos have many potential uses. However, not enough is known about how they affect our health. This uncertainty means many European governments are passing laws requiring reporting on the use of nanos in products and processes. With no action from the European Union, France has started a register of nanomaterials and Belgium, Italy, Denmark and Norway are going the same way.
The EU has finally decided to consult on the need for an EU-wide register of nano, with a view to making a decision by early 2015. Yet another consultation – after a public consultation that ended last September seeking feedback on how to improve information on nanos in chemical registration system REACH.
Nanomaterials have many potential uses but to ensure they are good news for people and the planet, new regulations should be considered, taking account of all the potential uses and risks. You can see our proposal for a nano regulation here.