Canada is poised to become the first government in the world to require companies to provide information about their use of potentially harmful nanomaterials in products, experts say.
The information gleaned from the request is to be used to evaluate the risks that these ultra-tiny materials pose to the health of people and the environment.
The move by Canada, expected to be announced next month, would be a significant step for consumer and environmental protection, said Andrew Maynard, chief science advisor for the Washington, D. C.,-based Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.
"People and the environment are being increasingly exposed to new nanomaterials, yet governments lack information on the type, quantity and possible risks of nanoscale materials being manufactured and used in products," Maynard said Wednesday.
"This is information that is vital to ensuring the safe use of nanotechnology."
Officials at PEN said the Canadian government wants companies to supply information on the quantity of engineered nanomaterials they are using, how they are using them and how toxic they are.
Environment Canada would not comment directly on the organization's claims.
Department officials said the plan is to send a notice out that requires companies and institutions that used more than one kilogram of nanomaterials in 2008 to provide information to the government. The request could include how nanomaterials are used or managed, data on physical or chemical properties and any other information that could help Ottawa assess the substances.
"The notice for nanomaterials will gather information that will be used towards the development of a regulatory framework and will target companies and institutions that manufactured or imported a total quantity greater than 1 kgof ananomaterialduringthe2008calendar year," said an email response from Environment Canada.