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Public Sector Informant : PSI - September
Zoe: PhD student, School of Humanities and Social Science Postgrad Info Day Tuesday 28 September, 4.00-7.30pm National Convention Centre, 31 Constitution Ave, Canberra There s never been a better time to complete your to do list and become more qualified. UNSW Canberra provides a diverse range of flexible and career focused programs. Our staff and students will provide program advice to help you take the next step. w: pgday.unsw.adfa.edu.au e: email@example.com t: 02 6268 6000 Le r f r w ng J t r r v c D r n c r t Re S i l A e Tr v t t id l e F tgra udy [SEPTEMBER 2010] THE PUBLIC SECTOR INFORMANT 23 Sugar trap: Engineered nanomaterials are now used in many common building products and even foods, such as some brands of ice cream. has considered this guide. In the European Union in July this year, the European Commission's independent Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks issued an opinion on the scientific basis for the definition of the term ''nanomaterial''. In the United States, regulation of the nanotechno- logy industry is currently by way of the existing regulatory framework, such as the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, but there is ongoing debate as to whether there should be specific regulation of nanomaterials. However, in all likelihood, as we have seen in the case of asbestos, if evidence comes to light that exposure to certain nanomaterials has an adverse affect on health, parliamen- tarians will need to implement a health and safety regime dealing specifically with nanomaterials. Safe Work Australia's report En- gineered Nanomaterials: Feasibility of establishing exposure standards and using control banding in Aust- ralia points out that Australia has no guidance for the safe handling and control of engineered nanoparticles, and no Australian National Exposure Standards for engineered nanomateri- als. The key findings include that benchmark exposure levels may be initially adopted as guidance, with conversion into national standards when more data is available. Safe Work Australia recommends adopt- ing precautionary measures in the workplace in the handling of nanom- aterials. Safe Work Australia's second report, Engineered Nanomaterials: Investigation substitution and modifi- cation options to reduce potential hazards, found that there are methods available -- such as surface modifi- cation, particle size, control and functional group addition -- which can be used to decrease the potential toxicity of engineered nanomaterials. It has also issued a risk assessment tool for organisations involved in using nanotechnology, Work health and safety assessment tool for hand- ling engineered nanomaterials. The tool allows organisations to identify and record the kinds of nanomaterials they handle, the controls they use to limit exposure to nanoparticles -- such as protective equipment or health surveillance -- and the work health and safety issues they encounter in handling nanomaterials. The Safe Work Australia Hazard- ous Substances Regulatory Package, providing model regulations, national standards, codes of practice and guidances for a range of substances, including asbestos, inorganic lead, and carcinogenic substances, recog- nises but does not yet specifically address nanomaterials. Minimising legal risks Developing a national standard for exposure risks is a first step in managing legal risks arising from nanomaterials. Until our understand- ing of those risks is improved, Safe Work Australia recommends a cau- tious approach to using and disposing of nanomaterials. Agreeing on exposure levels is an important part of assessing the poten- tial toxicity risk of nanomaterials, and will inform the monitoring, evalu- ation and understanding of the risk, including its potential effects, and how best to mitigate it through prudent regulation. Government agencies that use or promote the use of nanomaterials should be proactive in managing the associated risks. Such actions should help government stay abreast of published research and ensure com- pliance with safety standards as they evolve. This may include adopting precautionary measures in the hand- ling of engineered nanomaterials, such as using Safe Work Australia's recently issued work health and safety assessment tool to evaluate practices and procedures, where appropriate. Christine Plevey is a special counsel and Andrew Lu is a senior associate at Minter Ellison Lawyers. Creative flair Green conscience Call us about your creative project, we offer environmentally friendly options for all your marketing, design and communications. LOGOS | WEBSITES | BUSINESS CARDS | BROCHURES 6162 4045 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.papercut.net.au PROUD WINNER OF THE PROUD CWB Busine an oft
PSI - October