Nanotechnology Regulation in Australia
In Australia, there are seven different bodies regulating nanotechnology and the use of nanomaterials in commercial products. Each works within a different legislative framework relating to their own specific field, such as medicine, food, pesticides, veterinary medicine, cosmetics and so on.
- The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) is responsible for the regulation of industrial nanomaterials used in products such as paints, dyes, inks, plastics, cosmetics, consumer goods and surface coatings.
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) regulates nanotechnologies in foods, food packaging and food contact materials.
- The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) manages nanoparticles in therapeutic goods and medical devices.
- The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) regulates the use of nanotechnology in agriculture (including pesticides) and animal husbandry.
- Worksafe Australia is responsible for the regulation of nanomaterials in the workplace, such as carbon nanotubes.
- The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regulates all consumer products containing nanomaterials that do not fall under other regulatory jurisdictions.
- The Australian Government Department of the Environment is responsible for regulating releases that may have an impact on ‘matters of environmental significance’.
Australia has been relatively proactive in developing approaches to regulating these new types of nanomaterials.
Unlike many other countries, we have a working definition of nanomaterials, which is an important first step to a legal construct that allows for proper regulation.
As the technology continues to change and improve, staying ahead of the game is a big task for regulators. There is a delicate balance between being overly cautious and imposing unnecessarily burdensome regulation, and avoiding unchecked, potentially harmful innovation. Regulators are continually reviewing and revising their activities, standards and legislation as new data, monitoring tools and challenges emerge.