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Nano-labelling for well-informed consumers

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Nano-labelling for well-informed consumers

Nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers, is a hot topic. It has the potential to create new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in medicine, electronics, biomaterials and energy production. While nanotechnologies raise possible concerns about toxicity and environmental impact, they also make our lives simpler. For example, they help the administration of some medicines, make our clothes more stain-resistant and improve the strength of certain materials.

Nanotechnologies open many new perspectives for useful innovation. One striking example, that has attracted the attention of the European Commission, is the cosmetics industry. The EU Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009 requires labelling of nanomaterials (name of the ingredient, followed by ‘nano’ in brackets) in the ingredients list . When there are concerns over the safety of a nanomaterial, the Commission will refer it to the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) for risk assessment.

The ISO technical specification ISO/TS 13830:2013, Nanotechnologies – Guidance on voluntary labelling for consumer products containing manufactured nano-objects, provides guidance on the format and content of voluntary labels for consumer products containing manufactured nano-objects. It recommends, among other things, placing the term “nano” on product labels. Such labelling will enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. There is no doubt that in the coming years European and international standardisation will play an increasing role in support of innovation and regulation in the field of nanotechnology.