The aim of the UK Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) in relation to nanomaterials is to ensure that the benefits of nanotechnology can be realised while protecting human health and ecosystems from potential risks.
To date, there exists no nanomaterial-specific regulations within the UK. Defra has been seeking information through a Voluntary Reporting Scheme launched in 2006. However, Because of a low rate of submissions to its reporting program, no new regulations are imminent.
The UK Nanotechnologies Strategy: Small Technologies, Great Opportunities was launched on the 18th March 2010. This Strategy outlines how the UK Government proposed to take action to ensure that everyone in the UK could safely benefit from the societal and economic opportunities that these technologies offer, whilst addressing the challenges that they might present.
In relation to regulation, the strategy outlined that the scope of work on a scheme to succeed the pilot voluntary reporting scheme to include products as well as materials was planned. A working group comprising officials from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department of Health (DH), the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were tasked to develop a proposal.
In addition, the strategy pledged to monitor the success of implementation of amendments to novel foods and cosmetics directives with respect to nanomaterials and will influence changes made to the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation (REACH) in order to ensure that nanomaterials are robustly covered within the regulatory framework. To compliment this, horizon scanning and monitoring will be performed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), FSA and HSE to detect necessity for amendments to legislation in the future.
Further information can be found on the Defra website.