The BMU is head of the German delegation to the OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN). The delegation consists of experts from the German Environment Agency (UBA), the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) and the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM).

The WPMN has been working on the development of internationally coordinated methods and strategies to identify and manage the potential risks of nanomaterials to human health and the environment since 2006. In 2021, the WPMN extended its focus to include novel materials in the 1 - 1,000 nanometre (nm) range. The results are publicly available and are intended to help the countries involved implement measures to ensure the safe use of nanomaterials.

Members of the WPMN

  • 30 OECD member states (delegates from ministries and specialised authorities)
  • Some non-member states, for example China and Thailand
  • European Commission
  • European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)
  • Delegates from other organisations including industry (BIAC), unions, ISO and environmental NGOs, for example ICAPO

Key goals of the WPMN

  • International dialogue and cooperation on health and environmental policies relating to manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs) and other novel materials.
  • Proposals for
    • test guidelines (adaptation of OECD guidelines in particular)
    • sample preparation in testing
    • risk assessment strategies
    • principles for exposure assessment

To achieve these goals, international experts meet in specialised working groups to discuss issues such as exposure and testing, the development of safe-by-design approaches and the question of whether existing methods and tests applicable to nanomaterials can also be used for other novel materials. 

Adaptation of the OECD test guidelines and guidance documents

The WPMN began its work by launching a sponsorship programme for the systematic assessment of a representative set of nanomaterials (materials in the range between 1 and 100 nm) focussing on their physical and chemical properties and their impacts on humans and the environment. Lead sponsor countries (with the support of co-sponsors) coordinated, conducted and evaluated the necessary tests for each of the nanomaterials. Germany was lead sponsor for titanium dioxide nanoparticles and co-sponsor for environmental safety studies on silver nanoparticles. The main goal was to develop proposals for adapting existing test guidelines for chemicals to include nanomaterials.

The testing programme has now been concluded. The documentation is available on the OECD website. The results of the titanium dioxide nanoparticle sponsorship programme can be found on the UBA website.

Adapting all existing test guidelines to nanomaterials remains a challenge.

Policy-making in dialogue

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