German authorities warn consumers against nano

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Germany

Consumers should avoid using products that contain nanoparticles while the risks to the environment remain unknown, according to Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA).

The agency calls for a legal framework that can help develop the technology while minimising the risks to human health and the environment.

Compulsory labelling and the production of a register listing all nano-containing products is the first step in any framework to promote a transparent development of the technology, the agency claims.

It concedes that the dialogue surrounding the technology has increased significantly in recent years, and that the government was quick to respond by creating a Nanotechnology Commisison.

However, the UBA claims there are still significant data gaps that need to be filled particularly concerning the human health and the environment, and until more data is available advises consumers to avoid products in an attempt to minimise the risks.

The Agency points out that nano-containing products are widely available and suggests that over 800 companies in Germany are working in the field. Products include sunscreens and cosmetics along with a wide range of other consumer goods.

In addition, the Environment Agency said it will not be conferring the eco label Der Blaue Engel (the Blue Angel) on any nano-containing product until more information is available.

Nano products can have positive environmental effects

Nevertheless, the agency is far from being anti-nano and recognises the advances that can be made particularly the development of products that could ultimately benefit the environment.

Nanotechnology enhanced plastics that can reduce weight in cars and planes and therefore help conserve fuel, and nanotechnology enhanced bulbs that have a longer life and convert electricity into light more efficiently, were two examples given by the UBA.

“The Agency promotes environmental innovations that are possible through the use of nanotechnology and can provide environmental relief, provided the potential risks to the environment and human health can be valued and avoided,” ​the UBA said in a statement.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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