Labor unions in Europe have called for stricter regulation of nanomaterials under the EU’s REACH regulations of chemicals.  The unions are concerned about the protection of worker safety throughout the life cycle of nanomaterials.

The European Trade Union Confederation, in a statement here, passed a resolution asking the European Commission to amend REACH to cover imports and manufacturing of chemicals below one tonne per year.  The ETUC sees the ten tonne per year threshold as a loophole that nanomaterials could slip through due to the potentially lower weights involved.  The ETUC cited the recent issues concerning asbestos as a reason for calling for the REACH revisions.

Additional information on the REACH program can be found here, and clearly worker safety is becoming a larger issue, as evidence by the recent concerns over asbestos (see another discussion here).

The European Commission has yet to respond to the ETUC’s resolution, but amending REACH will not be a small undertaking.  While the ETUC may have a legitimate issue with the ten tonne limit on REACH, one tonne may still be a large loophole for nanomaterials to fit through.  However, ETUC’s concerns should not go unnoticed as worker protection should be a high priority as the sector continues to develop.