Action plan for synthetic nanomaterials

The Action plan indicates what work is necessary in Switzerland for the safe handling of nanomaterials. On 17 December 2014, the Federal Council decided to continue the action plan until 2019. 

Action plan for synthetic nanomaterials

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.

More Safe handling

The first legal nano-specific amendments have been made to the Chemicals Ordinance, the Plant Protection Products Ordinance, the Ordinance on Biocidal Products and to the legislation on foodstuffs and cosmetics.

More Applicable law

Various dialogue events have taken place with consumer and environmental organisations, businesses, academia and public authorities.

More Dialogue-based events

Future tasks

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.

More Inspection, measurement and assessment methods

Legal provisions must be tailored to the specific properties of nanomaterials. This involves:

  • Drafting a revision of the Chemicals Ordinance, in which synthetic nanomaterials will be subject to the reporting procedure for new materials;
  • Planning a reporting procedure for companies that manufacture or process nanomaterials.

Further information

Safe handling

The federal government has generated a series of tools aimed at taking proactive and responsible steps for the safe handling of nanomaterials.

Current law

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

Dialogue-based events

Dialogue is a key element in developing new technologies. Opportunities and risks have to be discussed and ways have to be found to safely and sensibly handle new technologies.

Inspection, measurement and assessment methods

The effects of nanomaterials depend on their size, shape and composition. Reliable methods are needed to determine the effects and behaviour of nanomaterials in the human body and in the environment.

Last modification 20.08.2018

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