Latest report on Canada’s work on nanomaterial safety via an OECD report

As usual I’m getting the best and most comprehensive overview of Canada’s current safety efforts with regard to nanomaterials from an external source, an OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) report. From the news item on Nanowerk,

A new document from the OECD (“Current Developments/Activities on the Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials”; pdf) provides information on current/planned activities related to the safety of manufactured nanomaterials in OECD member and non-member countries that attended at the 7th meeting of OECD’s Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (Paris France, 7-9 July 2010).

This new document compiles information provided by member countries and other delegations on current developments on the safety of manufactured nanomaterials (section I) in their countries or organisations. …

This is intended to provide delegations and other stakeholders with a “snapshot” of information on activities related to manufactured nanomaterials, as well as other activities on nanotechnologies, at the national and international level. This “snapshot” was current at the time of the 7th meeting of the WPMN (July 2010).

For anyone who is interested, the report can be found here. I did take a look at the section on Canada. From the report,

A. Canada has announced the adoption of the Interim Policy Statement on Canada’s Working Definition for Nanomaterials and it’s public posting (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/srsr/ consult/_2010/nanomater/draft-ebauche-eng.php).The Interim Policy is now in effect and comments on this policy statement are being accepted until August 31st, 2010. [now closed]

Currently, the Acts and Regulations administered by Canada have no explicit reference to nanomaterial. Among four key objectives, this policy statement establishes a transparent working means of identifying nanomaterials. It will also provide Canada with a consistent set of approaches and a trigger to request information. Given the range of nanomaterial-related regulatory responsibilities in Canada, the working definition is intentionally broad and will be applied more specifically in each regulatory programme area.

In preparing the Interim Policy Statement on Canada’s Working Definition for Nanomaterials, Canada sought the informal feedback of some international stakeholders, industry trade groups and standards associations.

B. A Workshop on the Human and Environmental Risk Assessment of Nanomaterials was convened by Canada from March 24-26, 2010. This workshop provided an open forum for detailed dialogue on nanomaterials among science evaluators, research scientists and regulators. The Workshop was attended by experts from Australia, Canada, Europe, Korea and the United States of America.

The Workshop was designed to be complementary to the work of the OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN) and followed on from the recent Workshop on Risk Assessment in a Regulatory Context that took place September 16-18, 2009 in Washington DC. Workshop participants agreed that scientific knowledge on the properties, environmental fate, behaviour and toxicity of nanomaterials is advancing, however, currently is still inadequate to allow general trends/structure-activity relationships to be made. Nanomaterials should continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, efforts should be made to minimize exposures and releases to the extent possible, and jurisdictions should continue to cooperate on research projects aimed at the development of scientific data on nanomaterials. Workshop participants emphasised that exchanges of information and views on nanomaterials at this time are especially helpful for promoting best practices in risk assessment and risk management.

C. Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standards has formed a Technical Committee on Nanotechnologies – Occupational Health and Safety. Initial activities include working to adopt the published international ISO Technical Report, ISO/TR 12885:2008 on Health & Safety Practices in Occupational Settings relevant to Nanotechnologies, as well as to produce a national standard to provide guidance for workers using nanomaterials in the workplace. The Committee’s inaugural meeting was held on May 7th, 2009 and work is continuing in subsequent meetings through 2010.

D. Canada is the lead for the ISO TC/229 WG1 Task Group on Nomenclature. This Task Group includes active representation from the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Australia, and includes regulators, industry, and academia, as well as observers from the Chemical Abstracts Service and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).The Group is tasked with developing a nomenclature system which meets the needs of regulators, industry, and academia. In July 2009 the Task Group completed the report: “Considerations for Developing a Nomenclature Model for Nano-Objects”. Canada has now welcomed United States in co-chairing this activity, and is continuing development of a framework for nomenclature models for nano-objects. Canada has pursued and secured a liaison between ISO/TC 229 and IUPAC to further this nomenclature work.

E. Canada has completed a report titled, Nanotechnologies — Terminology – Initial framework model for core concepts, under ISO TC/229 JWG1. Also, Canada has led a project (JWG1-PG5) to develop definitions for core terms resulting from the taxonomy system. ISO 80004-1 Nanotechnologies — Vocabulary — Part 1: Core terms has now been approved after ISO Draft Technical Specification balloting.

F. Under the International Cooperation on Cosmetic Regulation (ICCR), Canada is participating in the international ad hoc working group on nanomaterials in cosmetics (ICCR Nano WG) that was initiated in December 2009. This working group is composed of regulators and industry representatives to identify specific criteria for nanomaterials in cosmetics. Completion of recommended criteria for ICCR acceptance is expected in July 2010. The ICCR Nano WG will then commence work on endpoints for risk assessment relevant to cosmetics safety (starting late 2010). (pp.22/3)

I have mixed feelings about this, appreciation that we’re doing work on nanomaterials and safety and frustration that the best source of information is in a report produced by an international organization.

There’s more information about various Canadian nanosafety projects  in the report including a reference to Québec’s recent IRSST (Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail) on safety and engineered nanoparticles. Here’s a bit more,

Canada has supported multiple research projects under the Strategic Grants Program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). The nanomaterials used in these projects have included OECD priority nanomaterials such as TiO2. The projects examined fate both in the aqueous and the subsurface compartments and include establishing methodologies for suspension and phys-chem characterisation of the nanomaterials prior to any exposure testing.

A larger Canadian initiative is a multidisciplinary, 3-year collaborative project that brings together: 1) industry and academic/government researchers involved in the engineering and production of new and existing commercial nanomaterials, 2) representatives involved in the current regulatory testing industry that require new, cost-effective, time-sensitive, and efficient testing methods, 3) academic/government researchers who can develop and apply new technologies to the area of safe nanomaterials production and effective ecotoxicology testing, and 4) Canadian regulatory community. The goal of the project is to understand the fate and effects of nanomaterials (including OECD priority materials) in the aquatic environment, with specific themes targeting (1) synthesis; (2) characterisation in complex media; (3) methods for biological effects testing; and (4) establishing collaborative dialogue between key stakeholders. Funding and partnering opportunities are currently being considered by Canada to a) develop in-house analytical chemistry infrastructure for the measurement of nanoparticles in food; b) to assess the health effects of orally ingested nanomaterials for addressing exposure through food contamination from packaging materials, or through nanostructures in food additives; c) to evaluate the effects of nanomaterials in food on nutrient bioavailability, functionality and efficacy for addressing the regulation of nanotech products designed. Canada is also currently engaged in both in-house and collaborative research projects involving a range of different nanomaterials (e.g., nanoparticulates of zero-valent iron, gold, silver, TiO2, also carbon black, single walled carbon nanotubes, and C60 fullerenes). Testing includes pulmonary and cardiovascular injury; reproductive, developmental and transgenerational effects; exposure and tissue penetration, interactive effects with microorganisms, immune defenses, and genotoxicity. Alternative tests such as molecular (genomic/proteomic) and cellular in vitro techniques play an important part of the repertoire for such investigations. Other on-going projects include developing bioassays and biomarkers for nanomaterials, harmonizing and standardizing chemical and toxicological assays, toxicogenomics, evaluating fate in aquatic environments understanding the interaction of nanoparticles with microbial cells, soil effects research, and bioaccumulation and toxicity in benthic invertebrates. Canada has hosted various workshops pertaining to challenges in nanotechnology, such as the 4th Tri- National Workshop on Standards for Nanotechnology (Feb, 2010), which addressed measurement and characterisation in support of toxicology R&D for Human Health and Environment., focusing on identification of measurands for toxicological research on nano-objects, and the measurement science supporting accurate measurement and characterisation. This workshop supported the Canadian contribution to the North American Platform Program (NAPP) in Metrology in Support of Nanotechnology, strengthening partnerships between Canada, the United States and Mexico. Information on the 4th Tri- National Workshop on Standards for Nanotechnology is available at: https://www.nrccnrc. gc.ca/eng/events/inms/2010/02/03/tri-national workshop.html. (p. 25)

I’d never heard of the Tri-National Workshop on Standards before or the work on measuring and assessing the safety of nanoparticles in foods or some of the other initiatives for that matter. I’ve noted before that it seems odd that laudable work such as this is being kept, to all intents and purposes, secret.

There’s a section for public consultation which boasts the one (closed as of Aug. 31, 2010) for the Interim Policy Statement on Canada’s Working Definition for Nanomaterials. I commented on this consultation, which was hosted by Health Canada, in my April 2, 2010, April 12, 2010, and April 26, 2010 postings. I also made a submission and wonder if I’ll ever hear back from anyone about it. I don’t imagine so.

I notice that this OECD report does not include any reference to Canada’s nano portal (as I recall, the last OECD report did mention it). The nanoportal has been opened (I’m not sure when).

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