Nanomaterials added to polymers do not need to be disclosed?

Further to the publication of EU recommendation 2011/696/EU on the definition of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), some substances used for decades as additives in the plastics industry now find themselves classed as nanomaterials. The list of substances includes among others, silica, carbon black and many organic pigments. While the substances are used as additives in polymers they typically end up encapsulated into the polymer matrix and are not intended to be released under normal and foreseeable conditions. Based on these arguments, this raises the question; Should polymer products containing such additives be exempt from notification?

How to Define a Nanomaterial

It is commonly assumed that the science community has established a definitive definition of a nanomaterial. ie “Nanomaterial’ means 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.  
Should this be the accepted definition?
With regulatory bodies continuing to assess to legislate on safety/toxicology of nanomaterials a realistic, real-world definition is needed, with emphasis perhaps based more on application? For example, if a material at 80nm behaves exactly the same way as it does at 200nm, then why should it be regulated differently?
The problem we all have is that different materials change their properties at differing sizes – so to define a nanomaterial purely based on its size is being questioned.

Fire Resistant Wallpaper Becomes a Reality Thanks to Nanomaterials

Scientists have finally created a fire-resistant wallpaper that can now detect fire, trigger alarms, and prevent it from spreading.
“Fire-resistant wallpaper withstands flames, while a thermosensitive sensor triggers an alarm of sound and light.”
Fire-Resistant Wallpaper With Built-in Fire Sensors

The fire-resistant wallpaper is made from environmentally friendly materials found in teeth and bones which can detect heat. When it detects heat, the non-flammable material is transformed from an electrically insulating state to an electrically conductive one.

Researchers in Shanghai led by Professor Ying-Jie Zhu published a paper outlining this new technology and how it could enhance safety.

The wallpaper differs from past forms which are usually made of highly flammable materials like cellulose. Traditional wallpaper is often a leading cause of the spread of house fires.
How Fire-Resistant Wallpaper is Created

The wallpaper is based on hydroxyapatite. This is the main inorganic component of bone and teeth. The researchers found that by forming ultralong nanowires, the typically brittle material can be made flexible. This made it suitable to be made into wallpaper.

The researchers also used an ink-based thermosensitive sensor in the creation of the wallpaper. This “smart material” is capable of setting off an alarm in response to fire. It is also what makes the paper non-flammable.

This sensor is fabricated into the wallpaper using a graphene oxide ink. At room temperature, this is electrically insulating. When it is exposed to heat, oxygen-containing groups are removed. This makes the material highly conductive. When the sensor begins to conduct electricity, the alarm sounds.

Controlling Health Hazards When Working with Nanomaterials

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is pleased to present Controlling Health Hazards When Working with Nanomaterials: Questions to Ask Before You Start. This poster is a visual tool designed to guide those who work with nanomaterials on how to prevent exposures. The poster poses questions that the reader should ask themselves before starting work with a nanomaterial. Readers can then move through the poster to see which different control and personal protective equipment options are appropriate based on the physical form of the nanomaterial. The poster can be displayed in a lab or work environment, making it an easily accessible reminder of the important health and safety considerations for working with nanomaterials.

You can download the nanomaterials safety chart from the link below


Nanomaterials in Food


Nanotechnology is the next frontier in consumer awareness of its use in food. Nanoparticles are extremely small, approximately 1000 times thinner than a human hair. Friends of the Earth describes their size in their report Nanoparticles in Baby Formula:

The most commonly used nanoparticle in foods is titanium dioxide. It is used to make foods like yogourt look whiter and to reduce caking in dry goods. Some manufacturers are investigating the replacement of fat molecules with nano water droplets in products like mayonnaise and ice cream.

Friends of the Earth tested six popular American baby formulas to find that all contained nano-sized structures, yet no mention of the technology was listed on the label. The advocacy group cautions that “the same properties exhibited at the nanoscale that make these materials attractive for use in the food industry may also result in greater toxicity for humans and the environment.”

Currently, there are no regulations or labels specific to nanotechnology-based health and food products.  My quest for sunscreen without nanoparticles in the last few years required careful research. Nanomaterials have been a boon to the cosmetics industry. Consumers love highly transparent sunscreens, light-diffracting cosmetics, and moisturizers with enhanced absorbability.


Catalogue of nanomaterials used in cosmetic products placed on the EU market

The European Commission (EC) has published a catalog of nanomaterials used in cosmetic products on the European Union (EU) market.

On February 5, 2018, the European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON) published a table linking nanomaterials listed in the catalog to their Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) registration data in the European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) database. See

According to EUON, the linking was done by matching chemical substances in ECHA’s database through their Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) numbers and/or with the name of the nanomaterial in the catalog. EUON notes that as the registration of nanomaterials under the Cosmetics Regulation and the registration of substances under REACH have different scopes, it is not always possible to have a perfect match. Some catalog entries are more specific in scope than the substances registered under REACH.

EUON cautions that a REACH registration may not specifically cover the nanoforms of the substances used in cosmetics.