International organisations

Various international organisations work to develop standardised inspection, measurement and assessment methods to evaluate the health and environmental risks of nanomaterials.

Switzerland is involved in the following international working groups.

OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN)

The aim of the WPMN, which was established in 2006, is to develop methods and strategies that contribute towards the safety of nanomaterials for people and the environment. This involves, among other things:

  • Reviewing existing OECD test guidelines to assess their suitability for nanomaterials. If necessary, amending existing test guidelines or developing new ones.
  • Providing freely available documents that present the research activities and strategies of OECD member countries on the safe use of nanomaterials, so called «Tour de Table» documents.
  • Supporting international partnerships that are investigating risk assessment strategies.
  • Developing guidelines on measuring and minimising exposure for employees, consumers and the environment.
  • Promoting the sustainable use of nanotechnology by enhancing and expanding inventory data and lifecycle assessment (LCA) methods.

The methods used to test conventional chemicals can generally also be used for nanomaterials, as shown by the OECD testing programme from 2007 to 2015. Certain methods may need to be modified, for example to enable correct sample preparation or dosage of nanomaterials in the testing system. In particular, methods to characterise nanomaterials are currently being developed.

International standardisation organisations

The technical committees ISO TC 229 Nanotechnologies and CEN TC 352 are developing standards for nanotechnology terminology and naming conventions. These expert groups are also drawing up methods for measuring, characterising and testing the toxic properties of nanomaterials, and are preparing guidelines on handling nanomaterials safely. Measuring exposure to nanoparticles and assessing toxicity throughout their lifecycle is playing an increasingly important role. The NK 0201 standards committee of the Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV) is enabling its members to work directly with ISO TC 229 and CEN 352.

Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)

The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) is an international, non-legally binding policy framework to promote chemical safety with the participation of the United Nations (UN).The objective is to promote the sound use of chemicals. At the Second International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM2) in May 2009, nanotechnology and synthetic nanomaterials were included on the agenda for the first time. The focus here is on exchanging information with developing and emerging nations. Switzerland campaigned for the continuation of SAICM beyond 2020 to continue to promote sound chemical management.

Further information can be found under «Links».

Last modification 25.04.2022

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