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Precautionary Principle and Nanomaterials: REACH Revisited

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Throughout 2011 several institutions endorsed the concept of establishing a European nanoproduct database, 1 which would enable consumers and government officials alike to determine which consumer products contain nanomaterials. In keeping with the precautionary principle this would allow measures to be taken in the event of the recovery of a potential risk in the future. 2 For while the scope of EU regulatory activities has increased, an instrument is lacking that would across all sectors allow both consumers and government officials to obtain a clear idea of which products contain nanomaterials. This approach would also be in keeping with REACH, 3 which also applies regardless of the sector and lays down regulations concerning chemicals and thus also applies to nanomaterials by virtue of their being a specific embodiment of chemicals. However, as all concerned agree, REACH exhibits a certain number of deficiencies when it comes to nanomaterial regulation. The present paper discusses these deficiencies in light of the precautionary principle and at the same time addresses the issue as to whether reforming REACH would obviate the need to establish an online public nanoproduct database.

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