The Australian Greens have pledged their support for a national, mandatory and publicly available register of all nanomaterials in commercial use. This has been a past call from the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the (now defunct) Australian Nano Business Forum. Yet Labor Government Innovation Minister Kim Carr has ruled out support for a register, citing nano’s economic potential. Meanwhile, despite their past emphasis on building public trust in nanotechnology oversight, Liberals and the National Party failed to answer the FOE federal election policy questionnaire.
Australian workers and employers are flying blind when it comes to management of nano’s risks in the workplace, according to a report from Safe Work Australia. The federal agency commissioned a review of 50 Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). 84% of the MSDS “did not provide adequate and accurate information sufficient to inform an occupational risk assessment for nanomaterial contained in the product”. 11 out of 12 MSDS relating to carbon nanotubes described their risk as equivalent to that of graphite, despite some forms of carbon nanotubes having been demonstrated to cause asbestos-like disease.
It may be winter in the southern hemisphere, but in the northern hemisphere the nano-sunscreen safety debate has been heating up. Following a challenge from Andrew Maynard on his 2020 Science blog to specify a worst case scenario health outcome from using nano-sunscreens, Friends of the Earth Australia and United States responded. The subsequent debate is ongoing. Do you think regulators should carry out safety assessment on nano-sunscreens before they can be sold? Do you think nano-ingredients should be labelled? Why not have your say?