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Danish database set up to provide nanomaterial transparency

By Andrew MCDOUGALL , 05-Dec-2012
Last updated on 05-Dec-2012 at 12:26 GMT

The Danish Consumer Council, the Danish Ecological Council and DTU Environment have teamed up to develop a database to identify more than 1,200 products that may contain nanomaterials and provide further information on these.

Nanomaterials are used to good effect in a number of cosmetics and sunscreens, and although various studies have questioned their safety, they have always been deemed safe for use.

The Danish NGOs have set up their new database in order to provide further information on nanomaterials and document any potential harmful effects of using nanotechnology.

Consumer transparency

This way consumers can search the database to see if a certain product contains nanomaterials or is marketed as 'nano'. This way the consumers can choose if they want the nanomaterials or not.

"We are concerned that the flawed legislation means that too many nanomaterials are introduced to the market, before we know the full effects on humans and the environment", says Lone Mikkelsen, chemical expert from the Danish Ecological Council.

Producers of products containing nanomaterials have no obligation to declare their products, which DCC and DEC say is a big problem.

"Most consumers have no idea if there are nanomaterials or not in the goods they're buying. And they have no way of finding out, so that they can avoid the products if they are worried about the potentially harmful effects" says Claus Jørgensen, Senior Advisor at the Danish Consumer Council.

Labeling

It is the view of the DCC that because of the lack of obligatory labelling, consumers cannot make an informed choice, and can lead to uncertainty; damaging the reputation of nanotechnology.

This has seen further calls for a mandatory nano-label to be introduced. From the summer of 2013 all cosmetic products containing nanomaterials have to be labelled, increasing transparency for consumers.

"Until we know for sure that the use of nanotechnology is safe and the legislation is in place, we need a label that can help consumers make informed choices", says Mikkelsen.

The two organizations hope that the English version of the database will help consumers in other countries. The hope is that consumers will report products that contain 'nano' or claim to be a nano product to the database.

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