Exasperation at lack of government action on nano safety

Disappointing and slow. That is how the UK government’s research to improve the understanding of the potential health and environmental impacts of free nanoparticles has been summed up by the Royal Society (RS) and Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng).

In a report published today, a working group on nanotechnologies, representing both organisations, has strongly criticised the government for its reluctance to commit adequate funding or set a time table for achieving objectives. 

The report addresses uncertainties about the effects of nanoparticles, which are already incorporated into products like anti-ageing creams and sunscreen.

Publication coincided with the release of a Department of environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) progress report on work carried out by the government since 2004, when an assessment of the opportunities and hazards of nanotechnology prepared by the RS and RAEng prompted the government to act.

This frustration echoes concerns expressed in Chemistry World  earlier this year, that the government has deferred action in place of carrying out further reviews.

Ann Dowling, the chair of the working group who prepared the report, called on the government to ensure that nanotechnologies were adequately regulated. She stressed that outputs from government activities must be incorporated into policy. 

’The government must ensure that this research happens urgently or risk detrimental consequences both for society and the economy,’ she said.

Victoria Gill

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Editorial: Action please, not reviews of reviews

The UK government had the chance this month to take some bold decisions in two seemingly disparate fields: nanotechnology and energy.