Joint press release by the German Environment Agency (UBA), Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), National Metrology Institute

Ensuring application safety and the environmentally compatible development and use of nanomaterials and other advanced materials

Federal authorities review the joint research strategy "Nanotechnology - Risks related to Nanomaterials for Humans and the Environment "

Dimmable glass panelsClick to enlarge
Dimmable glass panels replace blinds – courtesy of nanotechnology
Source: Rittergut Störmede / EControl-Glas GmbH & Co KG

In a long-term research strategy, the German higher federal authorities responsible for human and environmental safety – the German Environment Agency (UBA), the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) and the National Metrology Institute (PTB) – have been accompanying the rapid pace of development of new materials since 2008. The focus on aspects of occupational safety and health, consumer protection and environmental protection is being expanded to include nanomaterials and other advanced materials. The aim is ensure application safety for the users and environmentally compatible use of advanced materials over their entire life cycle, from material development to production, processing and use through to recycling or disposal.

Based on the federal authorities' research strategy launched in 2008, research areas subject to regulation and evaluation were identified and analysed. A great deal of knowledge was gained in the area of nanomaterials safety. The outcome was also channelled into discussions at European level on the adaptation of material laws to take account of nanomaterials.

The joint research strategy is part of the Action Plan entitled "Nanotechnologie 2020" which the Federal Cabinet adopted on 14 September 2016. Its objective is an ongoing development and scientific validation of test methods and approaches for characterizing and assessing in the human and environmental risks of advanced materials. The federal authorities expect to generate a high-quality scientific basis for policy recommendations. In particular, this means recommendations issued to the Federal Government and the EU Commission concerning the revision of legislation for the protection of man and the environment while keeping up with the major and rapid progress in material development. Research is aimed at advancing the application safety and environmentally compatible development of advanced materials and derived products.

The research strategy is implemented through the participating authorities own research, tendering and award of research grants to third parties and through participation in third party funded projects. The research strategy, designed to cover the period up to 2020 (as is the "Nanotechnology" action plan), is being monitored and evaluated by a group of experts from the participating federal authorities.

The German Environment Agency supports the responsible use of nanomaterials through active participation in debate on their adaptation and risk assessment at national, European and international level. Its research activities include measures to implement the objectives of the Research Strategy.

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