The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, via Nanowerk, is reporting that Canada will announce, in February, that it will release a national regulation aimed at requiring the submission of the "use of engineered nanomaterials" by manufacturers and users. "The information gathered under the requirement will be used to evaluate the risks of engineered nanomaterials and will help to develop appropriate safety measures to protect human health and the environment." No further information is available concerning the nature of the regulation, the eventual scope, release date, and no statement is readily available directly from Environment Canada.
However, this announcement does follow on the heels of both US EPA’s interim report on the Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program, and the 2007 announcement by Environment Canada concerning nanomaterials’ treatment under Canada’s New Substance Program.
Should Canada release a national regulation concerning the tracking and reporting of nanomaterials for use by the government in developing additional health and safety regulations, that will be a significant step (perhaps more than a step?) towards the full regulation of nanomaterials. To this point, only isolated state and local governments have made binding regulations with regard to nanotechnologies, while all national governments have remained aware, but mostly disengaged on the question of regulation. Case in point, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom have all studied nanomaterials, or sought voluntary data submission, but none have regulated nanotechnology coast-to-coast. This could be the first signal that national governments are becoming more comfortable with nanotechnology and believe they can begin putting reasonable requirements in place. Or, this could signal that national governments are beginning to crack under increased calls for action and are putting requirements in place in order to answer the growing list of critics. Without knowing the details of Canada’s plan, we won’t know for sure until its ultimate release and effective date. February starts next week, so we should know soon enough.