CIEL and its partners express deep concerns about the result of the EU Commission review of the legal framework for nanomaterials

For Immediate Release
23 October 2012

CIEL, together with a broad coalition of environmental, consumer and labor organizations, expressed deep concerns today about the conclusions of the second regulatory review of nanomaterials, published by the European Commission on October 3rd.

Today, in the open letter sent to the European Commission, CIEL and partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs) raise four major concerns. First, unsound science provided the basis for the Commission’s review of nanomaterials. The Commission failed to take into account recent conclusions from the International Agency for Research on Cancer and other recognized studies recognizing the carcinogenicity of certain nanomaterials such as titanium dioxide and carbon black. Ignoring these studies leads the Commission to wrongfully consider these materials as harmless.

Second, the letter identifies serious inconsistencies between the Commission’s working document, which presents the Commission’s analysis of the situation, and the regulatory responses that address the safe production and use of nanomaterials.

“In its analysis, the Commission recognizes the difficulty of measuring exposure and implementing preventive measures, given the current lack of available information to workers and employers. It is unacceptable that the regulatory review does not indicate any intention to address this situation” says David Azoulay, senior attorney for the Center for International Environmental Law.

Third, the NGO coalition acknowledges the inadequacy of existing information gathering schemes; howeverthe Commission failed to propose the establishment of a community-wide inventory, which is the only solution to collect satisfactory information and avoid the proliferation of national schemes.

Fourth, the Commission’s regulatory review completely ignores loopholes that undermine the capabilities of REACH, the flagship European Regulation for chemicals management to be an effective tool for collecting information and regulating nanomaterials. Furthermore, the review ignores the call by several EU Member States, NGOs and the European Parliament to consider modifying the regulation to close those loopholes.

“With this review, the Commission is effectively adopting industry’s arguments against all other stakeholders,” says Azoulay “This approach will lead to the continued marketing of nanomaterials in the absence of data establishing their safety for several more years and constitutes a blatant violation of the “no data no market” principle laid out in REACH” he adds.

Earlier this year, CIEL proposed a solution to this situation: the adoption of a “nano patch” to close the loopholes in REACH. This measure was supported by workers’ organizations, consumers and environmental NGOs, as well as by nine EU Member States, who called on the Commission to propose and publish this “nano patch” regulation by June 2012. The Commission chose to ignore those calls, refusing to even consider this option in its regulatory review.

“We are now calling on the Commission to revise the conclusions of its regulatory review to reflect the views of all stakeholders, to adequately respond to the urgency of the situation, and to stop using erroneous legal arguments to indefinitely postpone the adequate regulation of potentially severely toxic materials,” concludes David Azoulay.


Contact: David Azoulay – Geneva Managing Attorney – +41 78 75 78 756