Worldwide there is a variety of regulatory provisions addressing nanomaterials. The identification as nanomaterial in a regulatory context often has the consequence that specific legal rules apply. In identifying nanomaterials, and to find out whether nanomaterial-specific provisions apply, the external size of particles is globally used as a criterion. For legal certainty, its assessment for regulatory purposes should be based on measurements and methods that are robust, fit for the purpose and ready to be accepted by different stakeholders and authorities. This should help to assure the safety of nanomaterials and at the same time facilitate their international trading. Therefore, we propose a categorisation scheme which is driven by the capabilities of common characterisation techniques for particle size measurement. Categorising materials according to this scheme takes into account the particle properties that are most important for a determination of their size. The categorisation is exemplified for the specific particle number based size metric of the European Commission's recommendation on the definition of nanomaterial, but it is applicable to other metrics as well. Matching the performance profiles of the measurement techniques with the material property profiles (i) allows selecting the most appropriate size determination technique for every type of material considered, (ii) enables proper identification of nanomaterials, and (iii) has the potential to be accepted by regulators, industry and consumers alike. Having such a scheme in place would facilitate the regulatory assessment of nanomaterials in regional legislation as well as in international relations between different regulatory regions assuring the safe trade of nanomaterials.
Claire Gaillard, Agnieszka Mech, Wendel Wohlleben, Frank Babick, Vasile-Dan Hodoroaba, Antoine Ghanem, Stefan Weigel and Hubert Rauscher