23 February 2017

Press Release: 11,500-page OECD dossiers on 11 nanomaterials are of “Little to No Value” in Assessing Risks

February 23, 2017

A new study, commissioned by CIEL, ECOS, and the Oeko-Institute shows that most of the information made available by the Sponsorship Testing Programme of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is of little to no value for the regulatory risk assessment of nanomaterials.

The study published today was delivered by the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) based in Singapore. IOM screened the 11,500 pages of raw data of the OECD dossiers on 11 nanomaterials, and analysed all characterisation and toxicity data on three specific nanomaterials – fullerenes, single-walled carbon nanotubes, and zinc oxide.

“EU policy makers and industry are using the existence of the data to dispel concerns about the potential health and environmental risks of manufactured nanomaterials,” said David Azoulay, Senior Attorney for CIEL. “When you analyse the data, in most cases, it is impossible to assess what material was actually tested. The fact that data exists about a nanomaterial does not mean that the information is reliable to assess the hazards or risks of the material.”

The dossiers were published in 2015 by the OECD’s Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN), which has yet to draw conclusions on the data quality. Despite this missing analysis, some stakeholders participating in EU policy-making – notably the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre – have presented the dossiers as containing information on nano-specific human health and environmental impacts. Industry federations and individual companies have taken this a step further emphasizing that there is enough information available to discard most concerns about potential health or environmental risks of manufactured nanomaterials.

“Our study shows these claims that there is sufficient data available on nanomaterials are not only false, but dangerously so,” said Doreen Fedrigo, Senior Policy Officer of ECOS. ”The lack of nano-specific information in the dossiers means that the results of the tests cannot be used as evidence of no ‘nano-effect’ of the tested material. This information is crucial for regulators and producers who need to know the hazard profile of these materials. Analysing the dossiers has shown that legislation detailing nano-specific information requirements is crucial for the regulatory risk assessment of nanomaterials.”

The report provides important recommendations on future steps in the governance of nanomaterials. “Based on our analysis, serious gaps in current dossiers must be filled in with characterisation information, preparation protocols, and exposure data,” said Andreas Hermann of the Oeko-Institute. “Using these dossiers as they are and ignoring these recommendations would mean making decisions on the safety of nanomaterials based on faulty and incomplete data. Our health and environment requires more from producers and regulators.”


Press contacts:

ECOS: Doreen Fedrigo-Fazio, doreen.fedrigo@ecostandard.org; +32 2894 46 56
CIEL: David Azoulay, dazoulay@ciel.org; +41 78 75 78 756
Oeko Institute: a.hermann@oeko.de; +49 615 181 91-158

Notes to editors:

Read context note
Read full report
Read executive summary
Download full dataset

This report is part of a multi-year collaboration between CIEL, ECOS and Oeko-Institute.

Additional work within this joint CIEL, ECOS and Oeko Insitute invitiative can be found here: http://www.ciel.org/project-update/safe-development-of-nanotechnologies/

ECOS, the European Environmental Citizens’ Organisation for Standardisation, defends the environment in the development of standards and product policies. www.ecostandard.org

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) has used the power of law for over 25 years to protect the environment, promote human rights, and ensure a just and sustainable society. www.ciel.org 

The Oeko-Institute is a leading independent European research and consultancy institute working for a sustainable future www.oeko.de

ECOS is co-funded by the European Commission and EFTA

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