What is the European Risk Governance Council?
One of the main goals of RiskGONE is to establish a science-based safety governance body for nanomaterials, in the form of a transparent, self-sustained European Risk Governance Council (ERGC).
The role of the ERGC is to provide expert opinions on the governance of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs).
Why is a body for safe governance of nanomaterials needed?
Nanotechnologies provide opportunities to develop materials with unique properties. The first breakthroughs have already started to appear in the chemical and technology industries and have been integrated into a very wide range of goods and consumer products. New biomaterials with improved properties have been discovered as well as novel detection methods and treatments for cancer and infectious diseases. However, while nanomaterials possess unique properties, they also have unpredictable and unknown impacts on human and environmental health.
In the EU, engineered nanomaterials are regulated through the EU’s general chemicals management legislation, REACH. This is because the general opinion is that the risk assessment approach routinely used for conventional chemicals is also applicable to ENMs. However, as acknowledged by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the guidelines and the procedures approved for conventional chemicals need to be verified and adapted to be applicable to ENMs.
RiskGONE aims to revise the current guidelines and procedures, verify them and adapt them for use on a wide range of ENMs, to strengthen EU safety governance of these materials. A modular decision support tool will also be created, to provide support and guidance for the different aspects of ENMs’ governance, including:
- Characterisation, fate, and dosimetry
- Human hazard assessment
- Environmental hazard assessment
- Environmental impact assessment
- Social impact assessment
- Economic assessment
- Risk reduction
- Risk transfer
- Risk communication
In this context the European Risk Governance Council (ERGC) will be established as an advisory and governance body to make these tools operational and to manage the risk governance of ENMs. The Council will act as a science-based governance body for ENMs safety and provide communication with stakeholders and civil society, based on high quality information.
What are the main characteristics of the European Risk Governance Council?
- It will include representatives of EU Member States and public authorities, scientific experts, civil society and industry
- Its main function will be to review scientific and regulatory data and to provide science-based justified opinions regarding the environment and human health safety of ENMs applied in different products and sectors
- It will be a permanent and self-sustained body that will operate beyond the lifespan of RiskGONE
How will the Council function in practice?
The ERGC will be established during the development of RiskGONE through joining the efforts with the other EU H2020 projects addressing the same aim. Currently, several international experts on nanotechnology and stakeholders have expressed their will to contribute to this goal. In the development and trail phase, these experts will form a ‘pre-Council’ that will operate as a test body of the ERGC.