The Dutch Health Council has called for the creation of a nanoparticle “exposure registry” in an effort to map any adverse health risks as a result of working with the minute particles.
According to the Health Council of the Netherlands, an independent scientific advisory body in the country, the creation of such a database is essential to combat concerns that occupational exposure to nanoparticles can be harmful to human health.
The demands were detailed in the draft document, Working with engineered nanoparticles: Exposure registry and a system of health monitoring.
There are fears that nanoparticles, which measure millionths of a millimetre, can be more harmful to human health than larger-sized particles of the same chemical. There is, however, currently no direct evidence to support this.
The production and use of nano-materials in the food processing and packaging sectors has taken off in recent years – leading to the introduction of guidance around the world.
Concerns and lack of knowledge
“Due to concerns and lack of knowledge, the Health Council considers it prudent to set up exposure registration. Data from the registration can be a valuable source in the mapping of health risks,” said the draft document.
“Such an exposure registry should be set up for insoluble and poorly in water soluble nanoparticles in any composition or physical structure, including nanoparticles that are present in solid materials.”
“The number of products with nanoparticles will probably increase in the coming years. This also means that ever more employees from all kinds of industry sectors can come into contact with these nanoparticles throughout the whole chain of supply, from research and development, manufacturing and production to use, waste processing and recycling," said the Health Council document.
The document adds that it may be years before research can demonstrate or rule out a link between exposure to nanoparticles and adverse health effects.
Previous investigations have made links between exposure to nanoparticles and respiratory and cardiovascular effect.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published draft guidance on the use of nanotechnology in the manufacture of food and food contact substances.
According to the Agency, the application of nanoparticles in the food industry raises “new safety issues.”
“As with any of the manufacturing technologies applied to food, nanotechnology and other emerging technologies may introduce issues that warrant additional of different evaluation during a safety assessment of a food substance,” said the FDA guidance.