On January 21, 2022, the European Commission’s (EC) Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) PublishedYou can find more information at Second statement on emerging health-related and environmental issues. SCHEER members have identified nine emerging issues in the non-food area as having a potential impact on human health and/or the environment in the future and have given them overall prioritization scores (*, 1, 2, or 3, where * is uncertain and three is high). The emerging issues include nanotechnology organics (prioritization Score two) and the risk of conversion of micro to macro plastics in the environment. (Prioritization Score Three)
- Complex particulate formulations using organic substances: Nanotechnology is a growing area in which organic substances are used, including in medical and agricultural applications that make use of nanotechnology. This includes the combination or inorganic and organic substances, particularly in medical developments. This has led to an increase in the development of novel materials. SCHEER states that there is therefore a risk of incorrectly applied risk assessment and invalid assumptions, such as “it is organic/biological so it must be safe,” or “it is a nanomaterial so we know it cannot be absorbed.” According to the statement, organic nanoparticles can be considered borderline materials as they are organic in nature and have sizes in the nano-range (below one micrometer (μm)), and sometimes even below 100 nanometers (nm), the size indicated for nanomaterials/nanoparticles. While organic nanostructures behave as nanoparticles when they are intact, they can become organic biologically oriented after being dissociated from a potential target. It is important to distinguish between hard solid (insoluble) nanomaterials and organic nanostructures in risk assessments.g., metal and metal oxides) and so-called “soft” nanomaterials composed of organic molecules, as they can have a totally different interaction/effect in biological systems.
- Nanoplastics: According to SCHEER, the production, use, and disposal of plastic materials is “now ubiquitous.” Plastic polymers have not been considered substances of health concern because they are generally inert in nature and are unlikely to be absorbed in the body due to large molecular sizes. However, they are highly persistent in the environment and may end up via a variety disposal/emission routes. Microplastics can be formed from the gradual degradation of plastic materials. SCHEER notes that these are, “in theory, likely to further degrade to nano-plastics.” SCHEER notes that this subject has been the focus of recent research and development and has been proposed as a topic of emerging environmental risk that needs further exploration.
These emerging issues will be included in the research agenda and policies of the Commission Services.[View source.]