Policy and legislation

The Dutch Government focuses on the opportunities offered by nanotechnology as well as on managing the risks to humans and the environment.

Government organisations and institutions involved

The Dutch Government website provides information on nanotechnology (in Dutch). Here, also the links to the involved ministries and the most important government organisations and institutions can be found, as well as information on government funded activities.

The definition of a nanomaterial

On 18 October 2011 the European Commission adopted the Recommendation on the definition of a nanomaterial.

According to this Recommendation a ‘Nanomaterial’ is:

A natural, incidental or manufactured material containing particles, in an unbound state or as an aggregate or as an agglomerate and where, for 50% or more of the particles in the number size distribution, one or more external dimensions is in the size range 1 nm - 100 nm. In specific cases and where warranted by concerns for the environment, health, safety or competitiveness the number size distribution threshold of 50% may be replaced by a threshold between 1 and 50%. By derogation from the above, fullerenes, graphene flakes and single wall carbon nanotubes with one or more external dimensions below 1 nm should be considered as nanomaterials. Source: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/nanotech/#definition

The RIVM interpretation of this definition as well as the implications for science and policy have been described in a RIVM report. The next step is to implement this definition in the various legislative frameworks. Where necessary, these may also include specific measures for certain types of nanomaterials.

Legislation applicable to nanomaterials

Nanomaterials are not regulated under separate legislation in the Netherlands nor within the EU. However, within the existing European legal framework producers and importers of substances are legally bound to enter onto the market only those substances and products that are considered safe. The European Parliament considers it important that the issue of nanomaterials is addressed in the legislation and regulations related to:

Nanomaterials, currently, are specified in only a very limited number of legislative frameworks:

  1. For cosmetics, prior to placing them on the market, a risk assessment is required, and the list of ingredients on the packaging must contain the term ‘nano’;
  2. For food products, the term ‘nano’ must be included in the list of ingredients;
  3. For biocides, a draft legislative resolution has been drawn up.

The definition of nanomaterials as used within these frameworks shows only minor differences; in all cases the basis of the definition is similar to the recommended definition by the European Commission as mentioned earlier. The main reason for including nanomaterials in legislation appears to be to enable proper consideration of possible related risks. There is no current requirement to gather additional information on nanomaterials.

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