Prevention of major accidents

In Switzerland, the protection of the population and the environment against serious harm caused by major accidents is governed by the Major Accidents Ordinance. 

The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) is currently investigating whether the existing rules and standards of the Major Accidents Ordinance (MAO) are equally applicable to nanoparticles or whether separate handling is required due to their special properties.

The following questions need to be addressed in this context:

  • Is it as well possible to specify quantity threshold values for nanomaterials based on the mass of the substance in question?
  • Is it necessary to consider new major accidents scenarios for nanomaterials?
  • What procedures need to be observed for nanomaterials in order to comply with the state of safety engineering?
  • What kind of fire and explosion properties need to be included (physicochemical properties)?
  • What types of acute and long-term effects need to be accounted for (toxicology and ecotoxicology)?

Synthetic nanomaterials in major accidents

A literature study published by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) in 2010 examines possible major accident scenarios in connection with the fire and explosion properties of synthetic nanomaterials. A second study published in 2013 scrutinises possible major accident scenarios related to toxicological or ecotoxicological properties of manufactured nanomaterials.

Both studies concluded that not enough basic data was yet available for a final assessment. However, the available knowledge does not give cause for the immediate adoption of specific regulations in the Major Accidents Ordinance for nanomaterials.

Further information can be found under ‘Links’ and ‘Legislation’.


Last modification 09.08.2018

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