Study Shows That GHS Classification Also Possible for Nanomaterials

In principle, GHS classification criteria are also applicable to nanomaterials. That’s the result of a study
financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers (consisting of representatives from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) and the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (TUKES). A Danish water specialist, DHI, conducted the study and selected the following nanomaterials for its analysis:

  • Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT)
  • Nanosilicon dioxide
  • Nanosilver
  • Nanozinc oxide

The characteristics of the four chemicals differ in terms of their chemical composition, form, water solubility,
specific surface area, and density. Because toxicity depends on the physico-chemical properties of each substance, the choice of the four items ensured that the scope of their effects was covered adequately.

In recent years, the OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN) collected and published a large amount of data on engineered nanomaterials. Combined with other data on nanomaterials (NanoReg project, NanoSafety Cluster projects, and REACH Registrations), this information provided the foundation for the analysis.

Ultimately, the researchers concentrated on very specific data that aligned with specific hazard classes in the GHS:

  • Acute toxicity: All four nanomaterials
  • Specific Target Organ Toxicity, Repeated Exposure (STOT RE): All four nanomaterials
  • Eye irritation: SWCNTs
  • Germ cell mutagenicity: SWCNTs
  • Skin sensitization: Nanosilver

Most of the data could be classified without the limitations of the GHS. For information on the chemicals and criteria that had limitations, how the experiments were performed, and the results of individual experiments, see the 107-page report on the study.

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