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January 7, 2011

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Transparency and traceability of nanomaterials needed, say unions

The umbrella body for trades unions in Europe has refocused its attention on nanotechnologies, calling for better identification of workplace exposure, clearer information on prevention measures, and adjustments to the legislative framework in this area.

In December last year, the Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) adopted a second resolution on nanosciences and nanotechnologies to ensure the protection of workers potentially exposed to nanomaterials in all sectors. It reaffirms the principles set out in the first ETUC resolution of 25 June 2008, such as the precautionary principle and the ‘no data, no market’ principle.

The second resolution incorporates new subjects related to the technical and regulatory developments on the definition of nanomaterials, the need to adjust the legislative framework to integrate the principles of hygiene and traceability, and the role of standardisation.

With regard to the definition of nanomaterials, the ETUC says the resolution should enable and support the generation of information and its dissemination throughout the supply chain in such a way that workers and consumers are informed when nanomaterials constitute an integral part of a substance (or a mixture), and whether nanomaterials can be released from related products.

One of the ETUC’s key demands is the development of concrete measures in the workplace to identify who is exposed, to what extent, and to what type of nanomaterials, and which prevention measures should be installed to avoid exposure.

Deputy general secretary Joel Decaillon stressed that the resolution on aims to ensure the transparency and traceability of nanomaterials, and noted that it gave special attention to the inclusion of social aspects in the scope of their regulation.

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