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Information Collection: Material

British Standards recommends that those individuals conducting the risk assessment for a particular engineered nanomaterial focus on collecting data that responds to the following questions:

  • What are the commercial and technical names for the material?
  • Is there an adequate material safety datasheet (MSDS)?
  • What is the chemical composition?
  • Is nanomaterial present? In what proportions?
  • Are the particles long and thin?
  • What is the particle size distribution?
  • How dusty is the material?
  • Does the material contain dust suppressants or is it bound into another material?
  • Is the material water soluble?
  • How hazardous or toxic is the material1

The Precautionary Matrix for Synthetic Nanomaterials, developed by the Federal Office of Public Health and the Federal Office for Environment in Switzerland, can be used to assess the “nanospecific precautionary need” of workers, consumers and the environment arising from the production and use of synthetic nanomaterials. The matrix is a tool to help trade and industry meet their obligations of care and self-monitoring.

The Nano Risk Framework published by the Environmental Defense Fund and DuPont recommends asking the following questions about the engineered nanomaterial:

  • What is the stage of development — lab scale, pilot, demonstration, or commercial — of this material?
  • What is the chemical composition and physical structure of the material? * Are the particles coated? If so, with what?
  • Are the particles dry powders or in suspension?
  • What are the approximate sizes and distributions of the primary particle and of agglomerates/aggregates?
  • What is the general particle shape?
  • What are the general physical and mechanical properties of this material?
  • What are the relevant properties of this material in relation to bulk powder handling?
  • Is the material soluble in water?
  • Briefly describe the source of the material. Is it manufactured in-house or purchased?
  • If purchased, describe who produces the material, where it is produced, and how and in what form is it transported to your facility(ies).
  • What manufacturing process is used to produce the material?
  • Is there a larger-sized version of this material in commerce?
  • What other materials exist that are similar to this one?
  • How long has this material, or a similar material, been in commerce?
  • What are sources of additional information on this material?2

1. British Standards, “Nanotechnologies – Part 2: Guide to safe handling and disposal of manufactured nanomaterials,” PD 6699-2:2007, at 8 (Dec. 31, 2007). (PD 6699-2:2007 provides guidance and recommendations only. The document “should not be quoted as if it were a specification and particular care should be taken to ensure that claims of compliance are not misleading.” Finally, PD6699-2:2007 “is not be regarded as a British Standard.”)

2. Environmental Defense-DuPont Nano Partnership, “Nano Risk Framework,” at 24 (June 21, 2007)