Legislation in brief

Depending on their area of application, nanomaterials and nanoproducts fall within the scope of a variety of laws and ordinances. Applicable provisions and planned amendments are outlined in brief below.

Current regulations:

Foodstuffs, cosmetics and packaging


Nanomaterials in foodstuffs and cosmetics must be declared as in the EU New nanomaterials require authorisation. It must be shown that the substance neither poses a risk to human health nor gives rise to deception for authorisation to be given.

Household products

Verschiedenfarbige Plastikflaschen

Household products such as cleaning products, waterproofing sprays and paints fall within the Chemicals Ordinance irrespective of whether they contain nanomaterials or not. Manufacturers are obliged to assess the safety of their products (self-monitoring). Depending of the toxicity of the substances and nanomaterials they contain, products must be labelled with hazard symbols and display safety advice. There is an obligation to register products classified as hazardous. These products can be viewed in the public product register. The link to it can be found on this page under ‘Links’.

Household textiles

Materials and household textiles that contain hazardous substances or nanomaterials are also subject to the self-monitoring obligation. Manufacturers have to establish whether these substances and nanomaterials could make their way into the environment and endanger people or the environment when they are used and disposed of in the intended or expected manner. There is no obligation to label materials and textiles.


Biocidal products such as disinfectants and wood preservatives require authorisation. They may only contain active ingredients that are approved. (The link to the Active ingredients list can be found on this page under ‘Links’). Nano-forms of active ingredients are assessed separately in the authorisation procedure. If a biocidal product contains nanomaterials, this must be stated on the label.

Planned regulations:

Amendments to the Chemicals Ordinance

The Chemicals Ordinance makes a distinction between old and new substances. It distinguishes between substances that came onto the European market before 1981 and those that came onto the market after that date, and whether they are listed in the European Inventory of Existing Chemical Substances. There is an obligation to register and test new substances, whereas old substances that are classed as hazardous have to be reported. Since the properties of nanomaterials may be different from those of larger particles, nanomaterials will in future be classed as new substances. An appropriate revision to the Chemicals Ordinance is being drawn up.

More Action plan for synthetic nanomaterials

Further information

Current law

Various regulations contain nano-specific amendments. The currently most important Swiss regulations for nanomaterials are listed below.

Action plan for nanomaterials

The action plan, which expired at the end of 2019, indicated what work should be embarked on in Switzerland from 2008 to 2019 to ensure the safe handling of nanomaterials. The Federal Council took note of the final report on the Action plan on 2 September 2020.

Last modification 20.08.2018

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