LICARA guidelines to help industry weigh up use of nanomaterials

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nanotechnology Nanomaterials

LICARA guidelines to help industry weigh up use of nanomaterials
As European legislation remains a challenge for the cosmetics industry, LICARA guidelines are geared towards helping to weigh up the pros and cons and assess the risks of using nanomaterials in products. 

Empa issued a set of guidelines entitled 'LICARA'​ as part of an EU project in conjunction with the Dutch research institution TNO, Nano-Cluster Bodensee and six other partners from European industry.

According to Empa, the cosmetics industry is looking to use specific properties of nanomaterials for competitive products while avoiding the risks to humans and the environment. 

The guidelines will address the likes of; 'Where and how can nanomaterials be useful​', What are nanospecific hazards for humans and the environment​', 'What legal framework is there​?' and 'How sustainable are nanoproducts?'. 

In addition to the guidelines, an Excel tool, the LICARA nanoSCAN, has also be launched to illustrate benefit-risk trade-offs with nanomaterials semi-quantitatively. Both can be accessed here​.

Seven simple steps..

The LICARA​ guidelines also give a detailed explanation of the terms nanoparticles, nanomaterial and nanoproducts as not everything that carries the “nano” label, contains nanoparticles.

The legal situation is also explained. If nanoparticles are used in products in the cosmetics, food and pesticide sectors, the strict regulations on registration and declaration must be observed. There are also registration rules for products from other industries.

Steps 3 and 4 are devoted to the potential benefits of nanomaterials.

The fifth reveals how the safety and also the quality of the products can be influenced positively throughout their lifecycle in the product design, while Step 6 stretches from the state of research to potential risks.

"Via these steps, the reader is systematically ushered towards an initial decision-making basis as to whether and with which nanomaterials innovative products can be developed successfully (step 7). This decision-making basis can also be used to communicate efficiently with the customers, suppliers and authorities about the product,"​  says Empa.


Empa is a interdisciplinary research and services institution for material sciences and technology development within the ETH Domain.

It's research and development activities are oriented to meeting the requirements of industry and link together applications-oriented research and the practical implementation of new ideas, science and industry.

It works to develop a life cycle approach and perform case studies to balance the risks and the benefits in the context for SMEs on nanomaterials. The guidelines also do their bit towards efficient communication in the value added chain.

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