Nanotechnologies cover a large number of technological fields all of which concern nanometrically sized structures (a nanometre = 10-9 m). Electronics and information and communication technologies are examples of such fields. The use of nanomaterials (materials composed of nanoparticles smaller than 100 nm) is due to increase significantly in the years to come due to the new physical, chemical or biological properties brought to this scale, making a wide range of applications possible, particularly in the automotive, chemical, cosmetics, health and energy fields. These nanomaterials constitute a new source of exposure and it is now justifiable to raise questions over their possible toxicity for humans and ecosystems. Nanoparticles generated indirectly during a process (such as diesel particles) are distinguished from nanomaterials manufactured intentionally to be used during an industrial process and which are the subject of much technological research.
The French Ministries of the Ecology, Health and Employment sent a solicited request to Afsset dated 7 September 2005 to conduct an expert assessment on current knowledge about the health effects of nanoparticles and manufactured nanomaterials. This solicited request focuses more specifically on carrying out an overview of scientific and technical knowledge on manufactured nanomaterials (properties, fields of application, toxicology, biological and health effects, metrological tools, exposure, health consequences, regulations, standardisation, etc.) and proposing key avenues for carrying out studies and research on the assessment of health risks. These assessments concern occupational exposure and exposure of the general population.
The expert assessment requested by the French Ministries of Health, the Environment and Employment was entrusted by Afsset, after agreement from the chairman of the Committee of Specialised Experts (CSE) "Assessment of risks associated with physical agents, new technologies and major developments", to a group of experts composed mainly of CSE members of the Agency. Given the scope of the subject, the expert assessment had to be expanded to include other experts who were specialists in particular fields. Thus, participants in this expert working group came mainly from the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Académie des technologies (Techologies Academy), Inserm, Cnrs, Ineris and the French Standards Agency (Afnor).
A preliminary report reviewing current knowledge, drawn up with the participation of the expert group, was issued in March 2006.
The final report drawn up by the expert group. All of the work that it produced was presented to the CSE "Risks associated with physical agents, new technologies and major developments", which issued an opinion during its session of 22 June 2006, based on the working group's recommendations, particularly on research avenues as the ministerial solicited request asked. The report was made public in July 2006 on the Agency's website. An overview and opinion of the Agency drawn up on the basis of the CSE's opinion are online alongside.
Nanomaterials - effects on the environment and human health : Afsset's opinion & Experts Commitee Report (4,9 Mo)
This translation is not an official or legally approved translation. Please refer to the authentic French version published by Afsset.