The European Commission has sought expert advices from Ricardo Energy & Environment, the Technical University of Denmark and Milieu Consulting to review its plans to incorporate nanomaterials into European regulations governing chemical releases into the environment. The review will see the parties create an inventory and classification of the unique properties of the materials, as well as consider their potential environmental impact.
Nanomaterials are materials with single unit size of between 1 and 1000 nanometres. These materials offer a range of uses across a wide range of industries, based on their often novel properties. Uses include targeted drug delivery, as well as carbon nanotubes for renewable energy capture. However, the unique properties and permeable size also pose health risks for humans and further environmental risks. In a bid to better understand the potential effect of the wide ranging class of molecules, the European Commission (EC) extended regulations governing chemical releases into the environment, to also cover the use of nanomaterials in 2012.
The assist it with the development of a database of inventories and classifications for nanomaterials and their respective associated environmental risks, such that the materials can be captured within European policy, the EC hired Ricardo Energy & Environment, in partnership with the Technical University of Denmark and Milieu Consulting. The work will help the EC decide if the existing regulation is sufficient to safeguard the environment from the risks associated with various nanomaterials or if potential gaps will require further regulations.
The three partners will monitor the trends in the contemporary nanotechnology landscape, assess potential environmental release routes and review implementation experience. The project team includes legal specialists and nanomaterials scientists, with Ricardo Energy & Environment providing its team of chemical risk and regulatory policy experts from its subsidiary, the UK’s National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC).
“From cancer treatment and solar energy capture, through to personal care products and cosmetics, nanomaterials are having a transformative impact on the world. Developing appropriate regulations for these materials is an important step to supporting this burgeoning industry,” comments Ben Grebot, Ricardo Energy & Environment Project Director. “We are delighted to be working with the European Commission and our expert partners from the Technical University of Denmark and Milieu Consulting to share our knowledge of this fast moving area. Effective legislation provides high levels of environmental protection, promotes sustainable growth and supports new industries to develop their green potential by providing cleaner solutions to societal challenges.”
Ricardo Energy & Environment has been active in a number of other environmental projects, including it providing quality assurance and quality control services to the UK’s largest air quality monitoring network, as well as developing a tool to help companies assess whether they meet the EU Directive that requires industrial process players to implement best practice in waste management.