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The "Action plan for synthetic nanomaterials" indicates what work is necessary in Switzerland for the safe handling of nanomaterials. It was approved by the Federal Council in April 2008. On 17 December 2014, the Federal Council decided to continue the action plan until 2019.
Nanotechnology and nanomaterials are becoming increasingly important in research, business and society. New opportunities will be explored and sustainable applications utilised. Possible risks must be thoroughly and promptly investigated in the course of innovation and measures taken to protect health and the environment. In order to do this, the necessary legal bases need to be established.
As a consequence, the Federal Council approved the "Action plan for synthetic nanomaterials" in April 2008. This instructs federal offices to create the legal bases for the safe handling of nanomaterials. A discussion on the opportunities and risks posed by nanotechnology must form an integral part of technological development. For this reason, information must be shared and dialogue encouraged with the general public, politicians and businesses.
Results to date
Work on implementing the action plan has been underway since 2008.
Various guidance documents have been published, such as the "Precautionary matrix for synthetic nanomaterials" and the "Guidelines for material safety data sheets". They help to identify the possible risks posed by nanomaterials and communicate important safety information along the length of the production and delivery chain.
The first legal nano-specific amendments have been made to the Chemicals Ordinance, the Plant Protection Products Ordinance and the Ordinance on Biocidal Products.
Various dialogue events have taken place with consumer and environmental organisations, businesses, academia and public authorities.
In its interim statement of 17 December 2014, the Federal Council set out the work still to be done. The focus is on the further development and international harmonisation of testing and assessment methods for nanomaterials and also on the supplementation of existing legislation.
Although the methods developed for chemicals can be used, modifications will be required for nanomaterials. Furthermore, new methods will have to be developed, in particular to characterise nanomaterials.
Legal provisions must be tailored to the specific properties of nanomaterials, and information on nanomaterials in foodstuffs and cosmetics needs to be improved. This involves:
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