The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published its recommendation on a common definition of the term ‘nanomaterial’ for regulatory purposes.
The report presents an in-depth review of methods available, outlines the requirements for particle size measurements of nanomaterials based on the definition, discusses the related generic measurement issues and finally, reviews the capabilities of the measurement methods currently available.
“Proper implementation of nanomaterials requires appropriate tools and methodologies for which measurement aspects are crucial.”
Following the adoption of the definition of the term 'nanomaterial' in October of last year, the EC report outlines techniques such as electron microscopy, dynamic light scattering and centrifugal liquid sedimentation, while also highlighting measurement issues that have yet to be solved.
It further underlines that no single measurement method can be used for all materials to determine if each falls within the regulatory definition and ruled that different methods will be required depending on the material under investigation.
On looking into the matter the EC concluded that; “None of the currently available methods can determine whether all kinds of potential nanomaterials meet the regulatory definition or not. Therefore, a proper combination of measurement methods is required" and that “The reliability of each of the measurement methods used in such combined, tiered approaches will need to be thoroughly checked in dedicated method validation studies.”
The report does not cover other related issues, like the implementation of the definition by means other than through measurements, or methods to detect specific nanomaterials (such as fullerenes and single-wall carbon nanotubes), as the Commission says these will be addressed in a follow-up report.
Following publications by JRC scientists in academic journals, this recommendation is said to be the first comprehensive overview on the topic because it specifically assesses the suitability of available measurement methods for implementing the EC’s definition.
Click here for a further in-depth view of the report.
In October 2011, the EC adopted the recommendation 2011/696/EU on a common definition of the term 'nanomaterial' to facilitate the regulation of products containing such materials. The objective was twofold; to ensure their safety and to enhance innovation and help industry.
The adopted definition is outlined as follows; "a natural, incidental or manufactured material containing particles, in an unbound state or as an aggregate or as an agglomerate and where, for 50 per cent or more of the particles in the number size distribution, one or more external dimensions is in the size range 1 nm-100 nm."